Monday, November 02, 2009

Table 7, Seat 3 and the Monday Morning Poker Recap

Well, I returned to the scene of the crime last night, and it went pretty well. Not four grand well, but still, worth my while to get outta the house. But for the first couple of hours I was there, I was thinking, Man, I should've just stayed home and gone to bed.

After I'd hit the big jackpot on Saturday night, I sent out a text message to about forty or fifty friends, sharing the good news. Well, the problem with that is that a majority of those folks live in other time zones, so it was the middle of the night when they got it. I got home around 2:00 am my time, too hyped up to sleep, but finally dozed off around 7:00 am or so. But that's about the time other folks were getting up and starting to stir, checking their cell phones and such. So starting then, and going all day, my phone was chirping at me, letting me know that messages where coming in.

I tried to answer a few of them, but eventually I just gave up. And I didn't get much sleep either. I was trying to stay up and watch the football games and the Nascar race, but between the phone going off and the volume jump on the commercials, all I got was a few minutes of cat-napping here and there.

Eventually, as tired as I was, I gave up on trying to sleep, too. I zombied around the apartment all afternoon, wishing I could sleep, but knowing that I couldn't. I figured a hot shower would do me some good, so I did that and got dressed, figuring that maybe my luck was still good. Aside from the river-suckouts and being 'stuck' for most of the night on Saturday, I've been running *really* hot at the poker tables lately. I don't think I've had a losing session in the past three weeks (maybe once, but I don't track 'em on paper anymore), so I thought I'd go out and heed the timeless advice of Crash Davis and do what I could to respect the streak.

Those of you who know me best know that I tend to play in the same places--I spend a majority of my time in the poker rooms at Sunset Station, Joker's Wild, and the M Resort, while hitting places like Green Valley Ranch, Silverton, and South Point occasionally to change up the mojo. It seems that everyone who lives within spitting distance of the south spur of the 215 plays the same 'circuit', so I see a lot of the same faces every time I'm out and about. And now that I live less than a good solid 7-iron away from the freeway, I find myself down at Binion's and the Nugget more and more, too. (Hell, even though the M is technically in Henderson, I'm actually closer to the downtown casinos, if you can believe that).

Anyhow, last evening I decided to go back over to one of my favorite rooms and play for a couple of hours. It's actually one of the hardest rooms to play in, but it's great practice. Everyone always complains about 'donkeys' at limit games, but I'll be the first to admit that the locals in the big Stations rooms are tricky, and better players than most people think--Boulder, Sunset, Red Rock, and GVR are tough places to win, but after a few sessions there, going down to the Mirage or MGM and playing with the tourists is like taking leftover Halloween candy from a baby. The off-strip local joints are some great rooms to pay your dues in, if only because the players there have a thousand times more experience than the typical tourist down on the Strip, so it's like Hold 'Em boot camp. If you can beat those games, you can absolutely mow down the tourist rooms.

So I returned to the scene of the crime, as it were, and bought in for a hundred bucks. And what did I see as soon as I got there? Why, an open seat at table number seven--and it was seat three, the exact lucky spot I had the night before. Of course I grabbed it when given the choice of tables to go to.

By then, eighteen hours after the fact, word of my big win had spread like wildfire, and everyone who wasn't there the night before came over to pat me on the back and offer up some congratulations. And all of my new tablemates wanted to hear the details of the hit, so I happily retold the story of exactly how things went down. Everybody hates bad beat stories, but man, do they ever love to hear about the big wins!

On the other hand, I was getting nothing but 'trouble cards' with the first couple of dealers--you know, stuff like suited connectors, suited Kings, Aces with six-through-nines, smaller pocket pairs, and 10-Jack--hands you always want to play, but no good if you miss the flop. And I kept missing the flop completely--I'd limp in or raise pre-flop, then the board would run out blanks for me, and somebody else would come out firing. My cards would then immediately go in the muck. This pattern kept up for far too long, and after the first hour or so, I was down almost fifty bucks, having never seen the turn.

But I was still having fun, basking in the aftermath of my big hit the night before. New players would shuffle in and out, and people kept talking about it. So even though I wasn't earning at my usual rate, and even had to re-buy for another forty bucks, I was still having a good time.

Eventually I found myself at the inevitable crossroads of Mad Skillz and Good Cards, and started making my way back. I treaded water at even par for about an hour, but then I started my run. I ran a sick sick sick bluff on a guy who I'd beaten like a drum at the M earlier in the week--he was telling everyone how I 'sucked out' to beat him (a few nights before, I flopped trips, turned a full house that gave him the, ahem, 'nut' flush, and he kept betting into me and went broke), so I knew that he was on a vendetta. I'd forgotten about it completely, but he just kept talking about it and wouldn't let it go.

On one hand awhile later, I just knew he had pocket Jacks in early position. It couldn't have been more obvious to me even if he was playing them face-up. He raised, knocking out everyone else, but I was on the button with King-Ten offsuit, so I called. The heads-up flop was all low cards, but two of them were spades. He bet out, and I did the Hollywood hesitation for a second, made a show of looking at my hole-cards again, and then gave a 'reluctant' call. Absolutely certain that he had pocket Jacks, and guessing that they were probably red, I was hoping for the ultimate scare card on the turn--the Ace or King of spades.

Luck was with me, as the prettiest card in the deck--the Ace of spades--hit the board on the turn. Now the key to being a good bluffer is not to watch the cards as they come out, but instead you should watch your opponent watch the cards as they come out. I could tell he hated that Ace, but he had to represent strength and so he bet out.


I gave him a thoughtful look, pausing for a moment like I was thinking "Hmm... Should I just call here and go for the raise on the river, or should I just raise now?". I gave an Academy-award performance of making the Aw, screw it, let's just win this pot right now face, and he fell for it hook, line, and sinker.

He gave me a dirty look and said You're the luckiest son-of-a-bitch I've ever seen!, and mucked his two red Jacks face up. Just as the dealer started to push the pot to me, I showed my non-spaded King-Ten bluff. I had no pair and no draw, and the look on his face right then was even more satisfying than the few bucks that came from winning the pot. I normally wouldn't have shown it, but he'd been talking shiat about me ever since he sat down, and when he called me an SOB, I figured he needed a little Life Lesson. I didn't want to say anything to antagonize the guy, but he got the message. He looked like he was ready to come unglued, and a few other players at the table chuckled. I winked at the dealer and tipped him half of my profit from the pot.

Besides that guy, who really had it in for me, it was a fun, enjoyable table with nice people and a good vibe, so I figured I'd eventually do well.

I still had my A-game, and raked a really nice pot when I raised from early position with Ace-Jack of diamonds, got seven callers, and the flop came out Jack-Jack-Three. I gave an exasperated check, and everyone else did, also. A Queen came on the turn, so I bet out, hoping everyone would put me on a steal, like I was over-playing an Ace-King or something. I got one caller.

The river was a harmless four, so I bet out again. This time, my opponent raised. Hmmm... I couldn't really put him on a Jack-Four, maybe Queen-Jack, but he didn't play like he had it on the turn, and pocket Queens would've re-raised pre-flop. Maybe pocket fours? I doubt he would've stayed that long. So I took a shot and re-raised, and he just called. I knew I was good then. I showed Jack-Ace, and for whatever reason, he showed Queen-Four. First of all, I don't know why he called a pre-flop raise with that junk, and the three pair on the river did him absolutely no good. Unless he had me something like pocket tens or worse, he should've known his hand was burnt toast. But I guess he really *did* think I was gambling with Ace-King.

But the hand of the night came a few minutes later. It was a kill pot, again, so the limits were raised. I was on the button with Eight-Ten of clubs. I decided to gamble on the off chance I might hit a flop with a hand nobody could put me on. Besides, there were like six callers in front of me, so I was definitely getting the right price to play.

The flop hit me directly between the eyes--Seven of Clubs, Nine of Clubs, red King. The small blind, directly on my left, was first to act. She bet out, got one caller, and everyone folded to me. I was definitely in, and had position plus the stone-cold nuts draw, so I raised it to $12. The small blind just called, but the other player folded, so we were heads-up on the turn.

Bingo on the turn card--Jack of Clubs. I had a monster of an unbeatable hand--a straight flush that couldn't be beat, no matter what card came on the river. My opponent was first to act, so she bet out twelve bucks. Obviously she had a big flush, and since she'd bet out on the flop, I figured she had Ace-King of clubs. If my read was right, there was no need to raise just then. We could go to war on the river with uncapped betting, and if I was wrong and she had three of a kind, a paired board would only make it better for me, as most players would gladly die under the flag of a full house.

The river was the Deuce of clubs, kind of crappy for me, I thought. Four clubs on the board--if she had trips, I'd get no action. She bet out, so I then knew for certain she had the Ace-high flush. Immediately I was hoping that instead of Ace-King of clubs, she had Ace-Queen and that she was putting me on the King-high flush instead.

Turns out, that's exactly what happened. I raised it to $24, and she immediately re-raised me back. I did the Hollywood hesitation move once again, and from across the table, the guy I'd bluffed earlier smirked and said Ha! That idiot thinks his King-high flush is good! I gave him a piercing look and said Dude, come on, you're not even in the hand, you shouldn't be calling my cards...

The dealer looked his way and shushed him, and again, my opponent re-raised me. I played the clueless act to the hilt and said out loud, Maybe she's the one with the King-high flush, as I re-raised. She popped me again and immediately I said Then again, maybe not, which gave the whole table a chuckle.

I re-raised her again, and she turned her head towards me and gave a look that said Really, are you that dense???

She then just called and said I don't know why you're being so stubborn Mikey, I've got the nuts! and turned over the Ace-Queen of Clubs. Mr. Vendetta across the table started laughing like it was the greatest thing he'd ever seen, certain that I'd just donked off almost my entire stack. My opponent missed her royal flush draw, but still had what she thought was the biggest hand.

I just shrugged and said, Sorry, but I actually have a straight flush, as I turned over my cards.

Amazingly, nobody at the table saw it coming--there was nothing but disbelief all around. Dead silence. Hell, it seemed like nobody even saw that it was possible. It was like everyone was locked onto the King-high versus Ace-high flush and completely missed seeing the straight flush. My opponent took it well, just saying Wow, you got me on that one... She sat there staring at the table in stunned silence after that, obviously disappointed, probably mad at herself for missing the monster hand lurking in the weeds. Mr. Vendetta, on the other hand, looked like he was about to have a stroke. For whatever reason, he was carrying a grudge from earlier in the week at the M, and his fondest wish was to see me go broke. He sat there muttering for a good twenty minutes after that.

The dealer said something like Dang Mikey, that really is your lucky seat! Not only did I hit the big jackpot sitting in that exact same seat the night before, but I'd just picked up a straight flush and won a monster pot with it. And then the dealer reminded me that I was sitting in that same seat back in April when he dealt me a high-hand jackpot for like $400 with a different straight flush. I'd forgotten about that one. Maybe I should talk to the people in charge at the casino and see if I can't buy that spot and have a plaque attached there that says 'Reserved For Mikey B', like they do in the sportsbook. I'm sure that'd go over well. Heh.

The game didn't last too much longer after that. I went card dead and folded everything for the next half hour or so. And once we got shorthanded, the players started looking to see how many seats were open at other tables. I had a couple of racks of profit stacked in front of me, so I decided to call it a night. I was yawning every couple of minutes anyways, and was still pretty tired. So I cashed out and headed for home, glad that Bull Durham was such a major influence on my poker philosophy.

I was dead on my feet when I got back here to the Batch Pad (there's the name I was looking for!), so I went straight to bed. I think it was around 10:30 at that point, and I slept like a rock for eight hours straight.

It was nice to get that much sleep, and I woke up this morning feeling like a million bucks! I've gone through an entire pot of coffee as I wrote this recap, but once I hit the 'submit' button, I'm gonna motivate myself back into the kitchen and cook up some scratch-made chicken fried steak and then head down to the bank. I've got a big ol' stack of hundies to deposit.


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