Friday, January 22, 2010

I Don't Want to Jinx Myself

... But I'm afraid that I'm about to. I just got home from another very productive night in the poker room--playing, not working--and I thought I'd post a few thoughts before catching a catnap for a couple of hours. (I want to be up in time for the market open).

My Thursday was pretty unspectacular. I went in to work late on Wednesday night just in time to see the no-limit game breaking up and everyone going home. That's what happens when the big stack wins the multi-way all-in. It can't be helped.

I was really bummed, because we usually have a couple of guys that come in every Wednesday and play all night, but they were nowhere to be found. And oh yeah, I could've used the money, too. Anyhow, besides me, there were two other dealers, a floorman, and suddenly no game, so I didn't even take off my jacket.

Before I got too bummed out though, the floorman said that he had something for me--the tokes from the Heartland Poker Tour had arrived, and there was an envelope full of cash waiting for me. Now, I wasn't expecting much at all, because a lot of the tournaments were just satellites--nobody won any money, they just advanced to a bigger satellite or the Main Event. So I was expecting free-roll type of money, just a couple bucks per down. Imagine my surprise when I found out that we made over four times that amount. Yep, that suddenly improved my outlook, because on top of that, they paid us double our hourly wage, too (although that comes on the paycheck and gets taxed).

So instead of working all night long, I just wandered in, collected a couple hundred bucks, and wandered back out again. Not a bad night. Of course, I'd been sleeping for hours before that, thinking I'd be working all night, so I had no choice but to stay up. I briefly considered finding another 1-2 no-limit game somewhere, but I decided I'd just head home and not risk my suddenly inflated bankroll.

I watched some TV, did a bit of reading, a few chores, stuff like that. Once the sun started peaking out through the clouds, I made a pot of coffee and talked on the phone for awhile to the folks back east. Eventually, I went to sleep, but I kept waking up, reading some more, turning off the light, sleeping some more, and I did that for several hours. It was a cold, rainy, and dreary day outside, so there was no use getting out of bed for anything.

...Except to answer the door when the FedEx guy showed up. Amy had sent me a box she's been teasing me with for a month, and it finally arrived yesterday. Inside, there was a music stand, that Michael Crichton novel Pirate Latitudes, and a whole bunch of trash disguised as 'packing material'. Now that I have a music stand, I have no excuse for not practicing the guitar. Oh, my fingers are gonna hurt for awhile since the callouses have left my fingertips and made their way to my palms. (Have I used that joke before?)

Anyhow, eventually I got myself out of bed, showered, shaved, and dressed, and considered what to do with my evening. Of course I was gonna go out and play some cards. I didn't really want to go all the way over to the M because of the bad weather and all the idiot drivers on the roads (it's been raining pretty hard all week here), so I called a couple of my local rooms that were closer. I guess the rain was keeping everyone away, because I called one that usually has 2 or 3 games going every night, but they were still trying to get their first game going. I tried another room, and was told that they were just seating everyone and if I got down there right away, I could get right in. On my way! I told them.

When I got there, it was a different story altogether--there was no no-limit game going, and there were only five people on the list. I was told that they'd probably start a new game within the half-hour if I wanted to wait, but I didn't want to. Since I was already halfway to the M already, I called them up and told them to put me on the waiting list. But I was told they only had one game going, too.

Normally, I probably would've just gone home--I figured the weather was just keeping everyone home last night. But since I was already oot and aboot, as they say in O-Canada, I decided to just go ahead and drive over there. Once I pulled in and hauled my carcass up three flights of stairs to the casino, it was nice to see that not only did they have a full 1-2 No Limit game going, but there were ten people on the waiting list, and they were getting ready to fire up a second game.

So I found out which table they were going to use, and claimed the #3 seat. Just a few minutes later, we were underway.

I started off strong, up $40 within the first half-hour or so. With no smoking-hot Cuban waitress to distract me on Thursdays, and not giving a rat's ass about the Cavs-Lakers game on the TVs, it was easy to concentrate on the game. Sammie was there, but the line-up scrolling across the bottom of the room monitor showed that she was a good four hours away from dealing at my game.

It was a good game--one of those where I just knew that I was the best player at the table, so I figured I should do well.

Unfortunately, those who the poker gods wish to destroy, first they make mad...

On one particular hand, I looked down to see Ace-Seven of clubs. Not great, but not too bad. I hate Ace-middle card--it's always trouble--if you hit the flop, you're probably outkicked. It's only good if it's suited and you hit a draw, or if you get a miraculous two-pair flop, and then nobody can put you on it.

But nobody was getting saucy with a raise and I believe I was on the small blind, so it was only a buck to limp in and see a flop. The flop came out 7-7-6, rainbow--good news, bad news for me. I had trips with top kicker, but I was out of position. Any bet was likely to cause everyone else to fold and all I would get would be the $12 pre-flop limpin' money.

So I checked, as did everyone else. The turn brought another Six, so the board was double-paired, giving me top full-house. So I bet eight bucks, seeing if I could get anyone with a six to come along. Immediately, the big blind raised to $25.

Everyone folded back to me, and I pumped it up to $75 to go. I figured the worst-case scenario would be that I'd chop the pot, because nobody holding pocket Sixes on the big blind would've limped in, or checked the flop, or been dumb enough to overbet a four-of-a-kind like that on the turn.

My opponent immediately went all-in and I called, holding top full-boat. But he turned over his cards, showing King-Six offsuit, so I had him--boat over boat--and it was a nice fat pot with over $300 in it.

Sadly, that's not the end of the story, as the River had yet to be dealt. My least-favorite dealer in the whole joint burned and turned, pulling the case Six from the deck, hitting my opponent's one-outer, giving him the runner-runner four-of-a-kind.

I have to use the poker cliche I despise the most in order to describe it--It was sick!

A f*cking ONE-outer. One single card in the deck that would've awarded him the pot, and it hit on the river. Ouch.

I haven't had a kick in the balls like that since a blackjack dealer at the Vegas Club pulled an eight-card 21 on my ass six years ago.

Ouch. Instead of being up for the session, suddenly I was down $140.

I made a little bit of it back on the very next hand, when I got pocket 10's on the button. I raised it to $14 pre-flop, and a couple of people called, thinking it was just a steam raise. The flop was all rags, but I pushed it all the way to the end and won a decent pot when my Tens beat somebody else's pocket Nines.

Still, I was pretty pissed off.

I made my way back to profitability over the next hour or so with Ace-Queen twice, believe it or not. Longtime readers know of my aversion to Ace-Queen--it's lost me so much damn money over the years that it's a hand I've grown to hate. But both times, I raised pre-flop, hit the the flop and made an opponent pay dearly for a flush that never came. I even told one old dude after he checked the turn that "that third heart is gonna cost you $75" as I cut out three stacks of five redbirds and pushed them towards the center. He still paid it, holding the nut-flush draw. Thankfully it never came, and I scooped a decent pot.

My best win of the night came a little later, after I was back up into positive territory. I was on the button with Ace-Jack of Spades. A couple of players limped in, and when it got to me, I raised to $13. The big blind immediately pumped it up to $26 and two other players called. Since I had a good hand, a good price, and position, I gladly called the extra $13.

The flop came out Ace-Jack-Four, with two Clubs. The big blind, being first to act, bet out $35. The other two players folded. I had the original bettor covered, so I went all-in.

He paused for a minute and said "Man, don't tell me you have Ace-Jack..."

So I said Are you saying you can't beat Ace-Jack?

"No", he said.

Ok, then I have Ace-Jack...

He thought for a minute, and then said "Well, my hand is too big to fold, so I call."

He turned over Ace-King unsuited, the turn and river were rags, and I found myself with $500 worth of chips stacked in front of me, more than doubling me up for the night. Woot!

I didn't play another hand after that, just folded the next few and racked up. I went over to Sammie's table and tossed her a redbird, then headed for the desk to cash out. I was out of there by midnight, happy to book a solid win.

I drove home, wondering if I should've stayed and played some more. It was definitely a beatable game, but I was still stinging about that four-of-a-kind that crushed me, even though I made it all back and then some. I guess sometimes we're not satisfied, wondering what could have been. Oh well. I got out when the gettin' was good.

But like I said up top, I'm probably jinxing myself by writing it down and sharing it with everyone, but since the calendar has turned over to 2010, I have not yet had a single losing session while playing no-limit. Seven times in, seven times cashing out a winner.

Let's hope that the streak continues.


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