Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Keep it rolling baby – Day 1 at the Borgata

After my take down at the Virginia Room, I was on cloud nine. There’s nothing like slicing off a big chunk to make you feel invincible. The adrenaline was so high that I couldn’t quite get to sleep, even though I knew that Darko, Viv and I were scheduled to go down to AC Saturday morning. Well, I finally crashed at about 6:00AM (I had gotten home at about 3:00AM) and I paid for it in the morning. Darko called me at 11:00AM to tell me to drag my ass up and get over to his place pronto. I lurched into the shower, packed an overnight bag, and hoofed it to BPC where I found Viv and Darko in his truck, waiting for my arrival. Viv was driving because Darko was even more tired than I was, having been in AC Wed., Thur. and Fri., driving back to the city Friday night to play in the Virginia room and making the return trip Saturday morning!

Driving down was relatively uneventful except for when Darko missed the turn onto the AC Expressway and we found ourselves on our way to Philadelphia. We only realized it because we weren’t seeing billboards garishly advertising the latest 70’s rock icon comeback. I love you Air Supply opening for Peter Frampton! We got to the Trop, where we had booked a room and checked in. Some smooth talking was required, but we got a room in the Havanah tower at the regular rate, which put us a quick elevator ride away from the parking lot. We were a bit famished, having not eaten anything (the Cheesequake cinnabon doesn’t count, dammit!) so we had lunch at Cuban Libre in The Quarter. We got 3 different sandwiches, cut into thirds so everyone could play nice, and I have to say they were quite tasty. At the end of our meal we all looked at each other and it wasn’t pretty. Our eyes were sagging. Our speech was listless. “Nap time?”. We had a solid 2 hours of sleep before getting up to drive to the Borgata. And it came in quite handy, knowing we were going to be out very late.

I was dreading going to the Borgata, actually. The last few times I’ve been there on Saturday nights, the wait to get on a table was huge. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that this time, there was open seating available. I was seated immediately at a 1-2 table next to the cage and Viv and Darko went to seek out the 2-5 tables. Not for me yet, thanks. The action at my table was pretty good for the first 2 hours or so but I wasn’t able to take much advantage. I had bought in for 200 and my stack was whittling away slowly but surely. There were at least 5 or 6 very weak players at my table and I wanted a piece of their stacks very badly. There was also an older gentlemen who, I swear, was a dead ringer for my best friend’s father. It threw me off a bit because he had a very standard continuation betting patter that seemed to work for him and I couldn’t catch him in the act. He bet me off a few hands where I had high cards, bet out, the flop missed and he bet out of position. It pissed me off though, because the few times he showed down he hardly ever had the nuts. Pretty soon, after a few bets and then folds, my 200 stack was down to 65 and I started playing looser and dumber.

Which is how I won my money back. I’m not proud of it, for sure, but here’s what happened. I’m in MP with Qh5h and I limp. The button, a semi-aggressive older Chinese man, raises to 6 on the button. This is very standard for him and the $4 raise doesn’t drive anyone out. There are 9 (!) callers in the pot when it gets around to the short stack at the table who decides that he’s going to put his last 15 in the pot. Again, everyone calls and no one re-raises so I keep myself in even though I should have been out to the $2 limp! Flop is 2s3s6h. It checks around to another semi-aggro guy who bets out 25. Pot it about 120 at this point so this is a VERY weak bet. The guy to my right calls the 25 and it comes to me. I have 48 behind me and it’s 25 to call in a pot of about 150. I should push here since I want to see both the turn and river (keeping 23 behind me is kind of useless) but I just call, making myself absolutely pot committed to this pot. My thinking was that I have a gutshot, runner runner flush draw possibilities and my Queen my even win. That’s all highly unlikely, I know. Please don’t berate my donkey play. In hindsight, it’s a good think I just called because a few other people called as well with the excellent money now in. The turn was the single best card in the deck for me. 4h. I made not only my gutshot straight, but also the redraw for the flush in case someone has 57 for the nut straight (insanely unlikely though that is). It checks to me and I put my last 23 in the pot. I get one caller who’s probably on a spade flush draw and the river in a brick, winning me the pot. The total pot is $290 and I’m now UP $90 on my crazy lucky play.

I immediately count my blessings and tighten up, vowing to try to use my knowledge of the table to build this stack. Which serves me poorly when my KdTd flops a flush about 10 hands later! That’s good, right? I bet out $25 into a $18 pot and get two callers. They MUST be on a flush draw right? One of them MUST have the Ace, right? Well, the turn is a Diamond. Curse my luck now. It checks all the way around. Yay, they’re not on a diamond draw! River is a brick and I value bet $25, having already shown fear of the 4th diamond. I get one caller and then the old man who looks like my friend’s father, and is the luckbox big stack at the table, min-raises me! Crap. At this point, though, I’m getting 6-1 on my money to call and I have to see him down. The other guy folds after I call. He knows his Qd is no good. Old man shows the inevitable Ad5h for the win. Grrrr… I’m gunning for you old man!

Turns out I won’t get the chance because the old Chinese man felts my friend’s father’s doppleganger in a 4 hands with a string of big boats vs. flushes and the like. Doppleganger skulks away and my eyes move over my old chips, now in someone else’s stack, like Jack the Ripper stalking his next victim. My time came when I was finally able to use my knowledge to my advantage. I had seen old Chinese Man raise and show down middle pairs a lot. He would call bets with them and profited handsomely when he would sometimes make two pair against TPTK. This hand, I had TT in EP. I limp and OCM raises to his standard 7. About 5 people call, including me, and the flop comes down T97 with two spades. This is a DANGEROUS board for me. There is a made straight out there and/or a flush draw. I would like to see where I’m at though, with top set, and I bet out $25. With such a dangerous looking board, only a draw can call me her. The made straight is going to pop it BIG because he’s afraid of the flush draw. In that case, this might be one of the few times I’d be able to lay down top set. The reason is that if I’m drawing against a made straight AND a flush draw, my odds of winning on a redraw are drastically reduced. The good news is that only OCM man called me. Yay! The turn is a red 9, boating me up. I’m only dead to pocket 9’s now and second nuts is a damn good place to be. Given his betting pattern, he is either on a draw, in which case a value bet is going to get called because he thinks he has outs (sucker), or he has the 9, in which case he’s going to raise my value bet and I’m going to get P.A.I.D. So I bet another $25 value bet. Sure enough, he comes over the top to $100. Ding! We have a fish on the line! I take a page from Darko’s book and start doing some Hollywood. I want to represent AT so I start acting like I’m frustrated the 9 came up. I look down at my stack, which is 188. I look over at the cards. I mouth the ‘F’ word to myself. I’m making sure OCM sees all of this. After about 30-45 seconds of this, I say to him, “If you have it, you have it” and I push all in for $113 more. He pushes away from the table in disgust. He was NOT expecting this at all. Uh-oh. Is he on a bluff? Am I not getting any more money. He looks down at his cards, looks up at the pot again and calls, flipping over J9. Ah, now I see. He was worried about his kicker on the 9. I turn over TT and he’s stunned. He has to look at the board about 4 or 5 times before the dealer can deal the river. A guy two seats to my right says, “Don’t worry, you’re fine.” LOL! He bought into my act that I was worried I was going to lose. To what, you donkey? Quad 9’s?!?! What an idiot. The river is not the case 9 (What a surprise!) and the dealer pushes me the large pot. Just like that, I’m up to $550 from my initial $200. Yay poker!

It’s 2AM and it’s a cinch we’re going to play until 5AM or later, but I do the smart thing for once in my life and follow PP’s ‘rack and run’ rule. The rule there is that if you win a rack of chips, you run. You can always buy in to another table with just $200, keeping your profit in your pocket. It’s a good rule, just one that’s hard to follow. But follow it I did. I picked up after I played UTG and said my good night’s. The rest of the evening, I played railbird to Viv and Darko on the 2-5 table and also played some table games to kill time. Normally I’m a Pai-Gow guy but Borgata’s limits are $40 minimum for Pai-gow. Which is why I was excited when I saw a new table game called Asia Poker that had a $20 minimum! Ah, this is the game for me I thought. It’s quite easy, being essentially a Pai-Gow variation. The main difference in the game is that instead of setting a 5 card hand and a 2 card hand, like Pai-gow, you’re setting a 4-card hand, a 2-card hand and a 1-card hand. As in Pai-gow, the hands with more cards have to be higher in rank that the hands with less cards. The other wrinkle is that there is no pushing in this game. You always win $20 or lose $20 (no commission though). In order to win, you have to beat the dealer on two out of your three hands. That’s the game. I played for about an hour on $100, and had a great time. I got crushed on a few hands I thought were strong when the dealer made ridiculous hands. How does Quad Aces sound to you? Ouch.

Viv and Darko were playing at the 2-5 table after I lost my $100 to Asia Poker. Viv, who had lost a buyin already, had built her next buyin into a big stack. It was about 4AM or so and I was unfortunately witness to brutality. After winning back both her buyins and spending all evening to claw back to even, Viv gets dealt rockets in LP. She’s already built a loose table image so no one think twice when she puts out a big raise when it gets to her. A guy in the BB re-raises her. She pops it right back and he moves all in. I already know in my head that it’s AA vs. KK. The question I have is, who has which. I haven’t seen Viv’s cards yet and I’m VERY happy when she calls and shows the Aces. Her opponent tables the Kings and everyone stands for the $1300+ pot. The flop is harmless, the turn is harmless. Viv’s opponent starts stacking his chips. The river is the dreaded cowboy. The whole table, even her opponent, explodes with a sympathetic cry. OOOOHHHHHHHHH! Viv looked a bit defeated. She needed to avoid an 80/20 loss in order to be up $700+ two days in a row. Instead, she’s about even, maybe a little ahead, for her two nights of poker. All in the space of 10 seconds. Poker is a brutal sport. Nasty and brutish. We called it quits after that and headed back to the Trop for some well deserved rest.

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