Some guy named Gerald Ford died the other day. It was in all the papers and I did some research on Wikipedia and it turns out this guy used to be the President of the United States! Wow. Well, when a President dies there is a traditionally a ‘national day of mourning’ during which nobody really cares but a lot of people get the day off. Since most stock and bond markets were closed, that included Merrill Lynch employees! We got the message from Merrill around 11:00 AM on Friday (Another Festivus Miracle!) so by 11:00AM and thirty seconds, I had already begun planning my trip to Atlantic City.
‘Fatwah’ Wendy, ‘Slayer’ Matt and ‘Darko’ Johnny were all on board for a trip down on New Year’s Day coming home the day after. We were even joined by Sly, who is the dealer/manager at Salami! The Tropicana was offering a $69 room, which is peanuts for us high rollers, and we were excited about going. I was especially excited after the drubbing I got over Christmas weekend.
Communication was spotty during the New Year’s celebration but I got a text message from Matt saying that ‘Noon’ would be the time we would hit the road on Monday. True to Matt’s sense of timing, I called him at 11:40AM to confirm when he would pick me up and I woke him up out of a dead sleep. He didn’t get down to me until about 1:30PM and we didn’t hit the road until just after 2PM after picking up John. So we lost the afternoon, but I’ll chalk that up to post New Year’s Eve hangovers.
The ride down to AC was trouble free and we got into the Trop at about 5:45PM. By 6:15, we were sitting at 1-2 NL tables at Caesar’s, which has a wonderful poker room. The place was packed and there were plenty of tables going at all sorts of levels. I sat down to a somewhat tight table where I was able to score around $80 in profit off a $300 buy-in before the first big hand of the day came in front of me. I had Ac4c on the button and I called a medium pre-flop raise to $15. I normally would muck in this situation because $15 is a decent sized bet, but there were 6 callers in front of me (!) so I weighed that getting a flush or straight would net me a big gain off of future bets. The flop came out 8c 7c 5s. I had picked up the nut flush draw and an inside straight draw. I discounted the inside straight draw, because I would have the ass end of it if the 6 came up. I was concentrating more on the flush or hitting my Ace for the high pair. Again, hitting the Ace would probably not win, so I figured myself for 9 outs for clubs. The initial bettor made it $30 into a $90 pot and picked up a re-raise to $100! It was now up to the player to my left who had sat down a few hands ago and shown himself to be an incredible donkey. He was a young Asian kid who was visibly nervous about being at the table. On top of that, he had his fiance/wife/girlfriend, hanging over his shoulder. After 10 minutes of play, she already had to give him another rebuy after he donked off his first $150. He called the $100 and I wasn’t nervous in the least about what he had. He clearly had a draw and an inferior one to mine. BUT, his money in the pot now made it clear that I had the pot odds to make my draw. It was $100 to me with $320 currently in the pot and the initial raiser still to come. I was confident the initial raiser would complete the bet. I put the first raiser on a high pocket pair, the re-raiser on a set of 8’s and the Asian kid on a straight or flush draw. I made the $100 call and the first raiser called. Everyone else got out of the way. There was now $490 in the pot. The turn was disastrous for me, a 7s. The board had paired and I was now SURE that the re-raiser had a full house. The initial raiser checked, the re-raiser moved all in for another $150. The Asian kid called for his remaining $30 or so and I mucked. The initial raiser called for his remaining chips. There was now nearly $700 in the pot with 3 all in players. The river was a blank and everyone showed. I was gratified to see that my reads were all correct except for the re-raiser who had 87 offsuit. He had made his boat (7’s full of 8’s), but not in the way I thought. I figured him for a set of 8’s but he had only flopped two pair. He was leading on the flop, but not as strongly as I thought. The Asian kid showed T9 for the open ended straight draw! What a donkey. The initial bettor showed KK. He had gotten married to his high pocket pair and paid dearly to see the river though he was drawing dead after the turn. Even though I lost a good amount of money, I definitely made the right call given the situation. I needed 9 outs, none of which would help any other players (except for the KK who would pick up a set with Kc and have a river possibility of a boat). The club draw on the turn was about 1 in 5 to hit and I had put $115 into a pot that eventually yielded about $700, far more than 5 to 1. Even assuming that the club had hit and betting slowed down, I can’t imagine that I couldn’t squeeze the extra $100 out of the 3 other players to make my implied odds for my turn call. But it didn’t come. I’ll have more to say about this hand, and making large calls when you have the odds, when I write about it on the discussion forum.
I lost the remainder of my buy-in when my set of 9’s got cracked to a flush and I decided to go have some dinner. When I came back, Darko was up significantly, though Wendy and Matt were down. Sal, playing the 2-5 NL table, was also down. Not the best session. We headed back to the Trop at 11:30 when I sat down to a comfortable 4-8 Limit game. I cleaned up, buying in for $200 and cashing out 2 hours later with $393. All in all not a bad day.
I had coordinate with Darko to get up early so we could be in the 11:15 tourney in the Trop, but he walked in the hotel room at around 6AM and I just knew it wasn’t going to happen. I got up at 10:15 and showered and dressed as quietly as I could so as to not wake up Wendy or John. Matt had left the night before at around 3AM so he could be at work on Tuesday. I entered the $65 buyin tourney and there was a healthy 47 entries with the top 5 paying out. We had 5000 chips to start and I built up a healthy stack of 9500 by the end of the first blind level. On the second blind level, I got a ridiculous run of cards. Pocket Queens two hands in a row, but those didn’t pay off particularly well. Then AK which did pay me off to the tune of 4500 chips when an Ace flopped and my opponent had AQ. Then two rags which I mucked and then pocket Aces in the small blind. Seat 4 had pocket Tens and he raised. The big blind had pocket Kings and he re-raised big. I was smiling on the inside like a cheshire cat when I moved all in with the big stack at the table. I wanted to make it look like I was attempting a steal with AK, but the pocket Tens folded and the Kings called. He looked crushed when I showed my Aces. It held up and I was the chip leader at the tourney after 40 minutes. After that, though, I went card dead and pretty much folded for the next 2 hours. I was able to maintain by chip stack but not increase it. I lost about 6000 chips on a nutty hand which I played nearly perfectly but got outdrawn on. I had AJ in the BB and the button made a raise to about 600 with binds at 100/200. Everyone had folded to him so I figured him for something like Ace-little or suited connectors trying to take down the blinds. I called and the flop was KhQh6c. I checked and he made what I read as a continuation bet of 1400. I thought for sure that the board missed him and he would be scared off by a big re-raise. I did, bumping it up to 4000. Everyone at the table perked up at the big pot developing. I fully expected this guy to fold to my check raise with KQ on the board but he called. Now I was nervous. Was he slow playing a monster? The turn was a 7. Here’s where I made what could be interepreted as a mistake. Instead of betting again, I slowed down. The reason I didn’t bet again is that I would have to commit the rest of my chips and I wasn’t sure about my read since he had called my huge reraise. So I checked the turn and HE checked! Now I was really confused. There were two hearts on the board. Was he on a flush draw. The 3h came on the river and now I was pissed that I might have somehow walked into a draw that he made. I checked and he checked! I showed by hand and he had….Jc7c! Absolutely nothing though he picked up his 3 outer on the turn. He didn’t bet for the same reason I didn’t but he won anyway. How he called my reraise though, I’ll never know. By the time binds got to 500/1000, I needed to make a move. I had AT and re-raised a shorter stack, putting him all in after he had bet 4000 with KJ. He nearly mucked but called for the remainder of his chips and jumped out of his seat when two Kings flopped on the board. I was devestated. I needed to win that to maintain an advantage. Now I REALLY had to make a move. I only had about 8900 in chips when I picked up KhQh on the button for the craziest hand I have ever been involved with in a tourney. The under the gun spot, an older gentleman with a good stack in front of him, made it 5000 to go. At this time, blinds were still 500/1000 with a 300 ante, so there was already 4500 in the pot before the first bet. It folded all around to me and I moved all in. I figure there’s enough in the pot and with antes at 300, I won’t have many more hands to see. Besides KhQh is a good hand! I imagined I would go heads up with the raiser, but the big blind said, “Now I HAVE to call this”, referring to the fact that my raise made him anxious to see a flop. He called and the board was 7s6s3c. There was a flush draw, but nothing else. Both bettors checked. I was all in and anxiously awaiting a King or Queen. An Ace of hearts came on the turn and my heart sank. The odds were now approaching 100% that I was beat. This was confirmed when the big blind, who had said he just HAD to get in the pot, made a reach for his chips and put out a bet. The under the gun player mucked and we showed down. I put up my KQ and the big blind showed….Qc8c. WOW!!! Double WOW!!! The river was a blank and the whole table had to look at it for a full 30 seconds but my King high was the winning hand! The big blind was a proud old man and he defended his play, and I happen to agree with him, when he said that he knew he couldn’t beat the under the gun player. The only chance he had to win that monster pot was to knock out the under the gun guy (which he was able to do for free since I was already all in) and take his chances that I couldn’t beat a Queen high. A greedy move perhaps, since there were only 13 players left, but a win on his part would have been huge whereas a loss was inevitable otherwise. So he gave himself a chance to win. I talked to the under the gun player later at a cash game and he said he also had KQ, so it turns out I would have split the pot. Instead, I more than tripled up and I was now the 4th stack in the tourney. This took me to the final table when I blundered badly. There were 10 of us at the final table and blinds were 1000/2000 with 500 antes. That means there was 8000 in the pot before we even received hole cards! I had about 28000 in chips, slightly more than 10% of the chips in play. I looked down at AdJd in the 4th seat after getting a run of unplayable cards. I raised to 10,000, hoping to take down the pot right there. The big stack at the table, in the 9th seat, put a crimp in my plans by moving all in. He could be on a huge steal or he could have me crushed with AQ or AK or AA or KK or QQ or even JJ. On the other hand, he could have a small pair, depending on the size of his stack to push me off what he might read as AJ or AQ. I had given myself a way to fold by not comitting all my chips. I would still be left with 18,000 and have a decent chance of making money but my greed got the better of me. I figured if I won this, I would have the best chance of winning the tourney. I called and he showed AQ. I was hoping for a 50/50 shot but he had me dominated. I still had some outs, but the Jack never came and he took it down. I had done well in the tourney, but it was only consolation and I didn’t make the money.
I played some 1-2 NL with Sly and I was up $80 again off a $200 buyin when I made a questionable move that resulted in a $170 loss to me. I picked up 88 on the button and raised to $12 after seeing a few limpers. The BB called and a few other people called. The flop was Q62. Everyone checked to me and I bet $20, thinking I could take the pot right there. The BB, a cagey guy who was playing smart, but loose, called. It was now heads up. The turn was a 2. He checked. I figured he would have bet on the turn but I bet $25 to see where I was. He raised to $50. Ok, he check raised me on the 2nd deuce which should have told me he had two pair. Somehow though, since he hadn’t bet on the flop, I didn’t figure him for the Queen. He might have had the deuce, but I didn’t think so. Instead, I put him on A6. He might have put me on AK, AJ, AT, which would make his A6 a monster in this situation. I felt good enough about my 8’s, since I was SURE he didn’t have the Queen, to move all in. He called without hesitation and I was sunk to see him turn over AA. Whoops! I pulled back to even a few hands later, though, when my AQ flopped two pair and I was paid off all the way. Darko, who was sitting at another table, had just gotten Aces cracked by Kings while being all in, and we decided to walk next door to the Hilton to join Wendy and Sly, who had left my table earlier.
The Hilton is a nice room but it’s usually dead. This time, though, there were about 6 tables running although 1-2NL and 2-4 Limit were the only spreads. Wendy, who had been losing all weekend, was happy to be sitting in her favorite room. It didn’t help though, when she started to bleed more money. “It’s not the room,” I told her. She wasn’t impressed. I did okay, ending my Hilton session up $50. I was down about $150 for the two days (not terrible), but I thought I played good poker. I was pretty sure if I had stayed longer I would have cracked someone for a big pot and been up. My favorite hand of my cash sessions was when I had KhQh and flopped 9cTs3c for the up and down straight draw and two overs. I bet at it and got a caller. An Ah turned for the nuts and I bet again. He called. I bet the river and he called. Paid off all the way baby! He mucked and left in disgust. Yummy!
The bus ride back to New York was pleasant and I took a long nap. Back to the grind…