After the last post, when I was at Starbucks, I *did* go back to the Nashua, NH poker room. There was a cash Hold’em game going on with 6 players and I was able to sit down for a bit. But I only got to play about 15 minutes before the players decided to stop playing cash in order to get a tourney going. Again, I didn’t have time to play a tourney and since the one game in the place broke up, it seemed to be time to go to my last poker room in Manchester, near the airport. I would have about 2 hours in Manchester before I needed to get out and return my rental car, so I would have some time to play.
I hopped in my car, dialed in the address into my GPS, and was on my way. It was only about a 20 minute drive and I almost passed it when I pulled into the parking lot of a huge brick building that looked like an abandoned factory. I need to look into the history of the area, but my guess is it WAS an abandoned factory that has been converted into commercial use. The door I walked into contained a bingo parlor in which a back room, with about 20 tables, was being used for poker. There was an Omaha/8 game going (perfect) and I bought in for $60. Unlike my previous day’s efforts, I couldn’t make anything happen. It didn’t help that these players were much much more aggressive than the other rooms. Capped betting was relatively common and I gave up a few hands that experienced players would consider beat but turned out to win. I had about 35 minutes left and I had already bought in 3 times when I went on a sick run of about 6 or 7 hands in a row where I won big pots or chopped them or ¾’d them. At the end of it, it was 6:30 PM and I was actually UP $44 dollars. I was running great and I wanted to play a few more but my flight was scheduled for 8PM and I was cutting it very close. So I said my goodbyes and gathered up my money.
Zoom, zoom, zoom to the airport and I was at THE GATE at 7:00PM. I fired up my laptop and did some work I needed to do. I checked the big board and my flight was still scheduled to leave on time even though the arrival from LGA, which would be my plane, was late. It took a bit, but they updated the board and my departure time kept slipping. Finally, the plane landed and the 15 passengers, including one woman who had been there since 4PM and one couple who were going to miss their connection in LGA, waited patiently for the plane to be refueled and boarded. Then came the worst news of all. After waiting for 45 minutes after our scheduled departure time, our flight had been cancelled. Not delayed, mind you, but outright cancelled. Like a vision in a dream, the plane sat on the tarmac in front of us, taunting us with it’s still propellers. I was still in good cheer, though. Surely the airline would help us book passage on other airlines and even pay for the difference in fares. Right? Uh, not really. It seems that LGA has cancelled the flight because of excessive traffic and since it wasn’t the airline’s fault, they weren’t going to offer any restitution AT ALL! That means, no free passage on other airlines, no free upgrades, no cash awards and no free tickets. To make matters worse, the next flight out was 5:15am and they weren’t going to pay for a hotel room or a car. I was on my own.
I debated what to do. It was about 9:00PM. I could rent a car and drive to Boston and take a train to NY from there. I would probably get into NY at about 3AM at best. OR I could suck it up and get a cheap hotel room for the night and take the morning flight. Of course, since a whole plane full of passengers had just gotten bumped, it was very possible I could get nearly no sleep, show up to the airport and then be told there was no room for me at 5:15AM! So I did what any poker player would do. I rented a car (getting a fairly cheap rate with my sob story) and headed back to the poker room in Manchester! On the way, I started scouting hotels on my GPS system (yes, I rented it again). I called every hotel in a 5 mile radius to get the best rate. The best rate was $69 at the Econo-lodge in Manchester. So I drove over. Bad. Move. I had been amazed and, frankly, a bit shocked that I hadn’t seen anything resembling “the poor” anywhere in New Hampshire. Well, if you want to find The Ghetto in the state, go to the Econo-Lodge in Manchester. It’s ground central for the slums. I got as far as the parking lot but then I turned around because I was afraid to get out of my car. I called The Radisson, and they quoted me $109 so I took it. Incidentally, if you need to stay in a hotel for a night near an airport and you’re calling *that night*, tell them your flight has been cancelled. They’re authorized to give a “distressed customer” rate and it’s pretty good. The Raddison is a beautiful convention hotel and the bed is one of the best King beds I’ve seen in a chain hotel. I picked up my hotel key and then headed out to play poker!
When I got to the room at 10:30PM there were only two tables going. One was the final table of a freeroll tourney and one was a $60 buyin tourney that had started 15 minutes ago. “No cash games,” I asked? The guy behind the cage point back to the $60 tourney table and gave me an education in how No Limit poker in New Hampshire works. Ok, here it is. Follow along with me:
Poker in New Hampshire is limited to $2 bets (ala Florida) or tourneys. In addition, there are limits to what a player is allowed to lose in a single tourney (I believe $240). Therefore, No Limit poker would seem impossible. Ah, but the NH rooms are smarter than that. What they do is blend No Limit cash with tourneys to keep everything on the up and up. How do they accomplish this? Well, you buy in for a $60 tourney, for example, and you get $1250 in chips (10 $100 chips and 10 $25 chips). The tourneys run for EXACTLY one hour and one hour only. The top two chip leaders at the end of the tournament are paid the prize money for the tourney. They then pay out the players the cash equivalent of their tournament chips for any chips they still have at the end of the tourney! Did you get all that? Think about it this way. $100 chips are worth $4 each and $25 chips are worth $1 each (though you have to refer to them by their tournament denominations during the tourney). The blinds in the tourney remain at $25/$50 ($1/$2) for the first 30 minutes. During this 30 minute period, you can rebuy/add-on if you fall under your starting stack up to 3 times (you can’t exceed $240 in a single tourney by state law). After 30 minutes, rebuys are no longer allowed and blinds jump to $50/$100 ($2/$4) for the remainder. People who bust out are out of the game. Madness, I know.
It was in this foggy haze that I bought in for $60, with only 15 minutes left in the rebuy period since I had come late. I played tight for a few hands but I finally put my hat in the ring with Jd9d because their was a moderate raise, a few callers and I had the button. The flop was crap but it checked around. The turn gave me an OESD, but the original raiser bet 1/5th of the pot! What’s more, he got two callers behind me. I called and the King came to complete my second nut straight. The raiser bet 300. It folded to me and I shoved all in for 350 more. He squirmed but called and I was now up $65 when he tabled a crappy two pair. The same guy paid me off nicely later on when I made a loose-ish call with As5s in the SB in the face of a race to $400. However, before you yell at me, 4 other people called! Anyway, I flopped two pair and bet 700. The original raiser called with a flush draw and when the turn came up blank, I shoved all in. He folded and I was now up about $140. We played for about 20 more minutes and then we were done. I had managed to keep my profits and sat watching incredulously as the top two players paid us all out. It was like being at a home game, except in order to keep it like “a tourney”, the players were ostensibly paying us out on the side. Crazy stuff. Anyway, I stuck around for a bit to see if another game would go off and it did. I sat tight again and was rewarded by playing for pot odds and not hitting anything. Finally, UTG+1 and my stack down to $30, I got AA. The UTG player raised to $300, which would leave me $450 more. I was worried if I pushed all in that I would only isolate a single player so I smooth called, gambling that I would be able to get a favorable flop and THEN isolate to a single player while getting more limp money in the pot pre-flop. It worked perfectly when three other players limped and the flop came T64 with two hearts. It cheked to me and I pushed all in, naturally. The player behind pushed all in for more and I assumed I was dead to a flopped set. He actually did the work for me getting him to isolate with me because I complained that I was dead and tabled my AA. He was shocked that I would think I was behind and tabled AT for TPTK. I was good. I was really good. Until the river came with another fucking ten! Goddamit all. My luck had really turned. I could rebuy since there were about 15 minutes left, but I was feeling a bit tired and decided to split with my profit and call it a night.
The weekend has been a real treat and I had a lot of great experiences. I’m hoping to get out tomorrow on the 9:15 AM flight (screw 5:15!), but I hope I don’t keep getting bumped. If I don’t make it onto the 11:15 flight, I’ll see about getting credit for my ticket for a future flight and I’ll go standby on another flight on another airline. Wish me luck and I’ll see you guys at the WSP Season 5 inaugural on Thursday!