The weekend in Atlantic City was a great time. I found out some great things about myself. Namely, being sick ups my aggression level to an unprecedented degree. Also, said aggression is not winning me any pots.
I was down this weekend. Really down. Like, it was my worst 3 day session ever. There was one bright spot, but that will come later.
First, the pain.
I got down Thursday night and I was feeling barely functional. But it seemed dumb to just be at the Tropicana to sleep, so I looked around the poker room to see what was going on. To my credit, I shied away from the No Limit tables. I was really hoping the pink game was running, but it wasn't. It just doesn't pop off the way it used to. For a Thursday night though, the place was pretty full. I scanned the limit tables to see what I could find and found a $3-$6 7Stud table going. Perfect. I've been running really poorly at limit, um....forever, but I love it nonetheless. It wasn't until a few days ago, that I found out how bad I am at limit. I had never bucketed my poker results by Limit vs. No-Limit and when I finally did I was in for a rude shock. So with this in mind, I decided to sit in the game and play tight. Realy tight. Even though it's low-limit, I set a goal to be smart. For the most part, it worked and I was able to grind out a $30 profit in about an hour of play.
I had forgotten how much I really like 7-stud. It was the first poker game I ever learned and it's been years since I played it seriously. Now, that and Omaha are starting to become my favorite games. Maybe it's the challenge. Maybe it's being the outsider who doesn't play the 'popular' game. A good portion of it, though, is that there is SO much more profit potential in these games. I'd have to move up limits to equal the No Limit profit potential, sure, but the play at the 7 Stud and Omaha tables has been generally atrocious (sometimes by me). The issue is that because it's more complicated than Hold'Em, people end up making more mistakes, even veterans. More on this later.
So I went to sleep happy that night that I made a few dollars even though I was sick. I took some Nyquil (you magic elixir, you) and had a good night's sleep. I woke up relatively early and heard from Michael Brown, who was coming down for the weekend. He wanted to play in the 2PM tourney at the Showboat. I wasn't sure if I was going to make it out there in time, but I told him I'd meet him there anyway. I, um, got caught up at the Taj on the way. The Taj runs a 5-10 O/8 game which I have yet to crack and I wanted the challenge. So I told Michael I'd meet him after the tourney and I got myself seated at the O/8 game.
I lost. Big. 3 buyins to be specific. (Well, one buyin and 2 addons).
I started out patient but after 1.5 hours of not getting a single good starting hand (not 1!), I started playing crap. Hello leak! Before I knew it, I had flopped a few bottom two pairs that, lo and behold, didn't hold up. Gee, ya think? After a few hours, I had been completely demolished at a game I should be crushing. It's not that the players are good (they are), it's just that I sucked something fierce.
I tucked my tail between my legs and left the Taj, which is now officially my worst performing casino, largely due to that damned 5-10 O/8 game.
I went to the Showboat so I could play in the 7PM tourney. W was on her way down for the same reason and I played some 1-2NL cash in the 90 minutes I had before the tourney. I was about 20 minutes in, being nice and tight, when I picked up KK on the button. A few people limped and I made a $10 bet. The table was super tight and I figured I might get one caller, max. Well, the SB, a semi-aggro Asian kid (one of the two looseish players at the table), re-raised to $25. My alarm bells went off, but I called, almost hoping an Ace would flop so I could get away from this. No such luck. The flop was J82 with 2 spades. Crapola, I'm in this pot. Asian kid bet out $50. So, he's got a pocket pair, I thought. But what is it? Tens (good), Jacks(bad), Queens (good), Kings (good), Aces (bad). I discounted Jacks because of the small re-raise preflop. I sensed the kid was good enough to know that Jacks had to be bet *hard*. So it was Tens, Queens, Kings or Aces. Well, only one of those things beat me, so I min-raised to see where I was at (I only had $170 in my stack). He re-raised all in. So, I got my information, but now I only have $70 behind into a pot that was now $320. I called and saw the inevitable AA. In a relatively short stacked game ($200 in my stack), I'm just not good enough to get away from KK. I'm just not.
This didn't bode well as an Omen for the weekend. One funny thing though. When the dealer matched up the stackes, he pushed $70 back to me. I could have SWORN the other guy had me outchipped, but I said nothing and got a nice little refund on the hand. I was able to work up that $70 to $130 before the tourney, so at least it wasn't a total wipe.
The tourney was, though. I busted out somewhere in the middle of the pack after having two playable hands in two hours. I stole the blinds a BUNCH of times (there's that "I'm sick=aggression" thing), but those are the only chips I took.
The rest of the night was spent trolling the other Atlantic City boardwalk casinos looking for poker rooms I haven't officially visited yet. I'm happy to report that I've now been to all the AC poker rooms, officially.
On the way to Caesars, I was walking through the Wild West just to make sure that they didn't have a new poker room I wasn't aware of (they don't). On my walkthrough, I spotted a table game that was being beta tested. It's called Winner's Pot Stud Poker and it's my new favorite table game. Here's how it works. You put an ante down ($5 in this case) and you receive two cards down and one card up. Each of the players at the table does the same as well as the dealer. You look at your down cards without showing them to anyone and then decide if you want a fourth card, dealt up. If you do, you put down another $5. After the fourth card, you decide if you want the 5th card, dealt up. The price of the 5th card is $10. A player can decide to fold after any of the cards but then you lose any chance to win, obviously. All the money that's been bet (the dealer automatically pays for and sees all five cards), gets put into the center and all the 5 card hands are shown down. The winner gets ALL the money. There's a bonus bet, of course, but I didn't play it. Rather, I took advantage of my superior poker skils to figure out where everyone was and to draw out on them. It was highly profitable until the game broke up. I made $70 in 30 minutes just playing with 2 players and the dealer. But I can see how a full table would just be a money machine. Assuming most people will see all 5 cards and there are 7 positions, there could be up to $140 in *profit* on a single hand. That means, if you fold on 3rd street waiting for a good starting hand (pocket paint, split paint or rolled up anything), you have 28 looks before you have to win. It's actually a little more since the house, naturally, take a cut of the winnings. It's 10% up to an $8 max. That's a lot, but good skills as a poker player can overcome that with the rubes who stand to play this game. I'm definitely going to try this again when I go back.
In the morning, I got up again and it was a long while before the Nyquil wore off. When it did, I went back to the Showboat to try the 7PM tourney again, playing cash beforehand. Another crappy session, though not monstrously bad. The tourney, again, was a bust. Blinds were 1000-2000 and I had 14,000 in chips. To me, this is pretty much desperation mode. I have to double up and quick. I got Ad9d in late position and pushed all in after getting one limper. The SB insta-called with what turned out to be QQ. I don't think I was wrong there. 14,000 would have made a big dent in all but two of the stacks at the table.
After the tourney, I went over to the Borgata to meet up with Viv, who had been there for a few hours already. W and Thomas G. (who got there in the morning) were still playing and were going to leave when they busted out. I got to the Borgata poker room around 11 and tried to eat dinner with Viv but she wouldn't get up! She was running well and not hungry, convienently. So I got onto the 10-20 mixed game. This is a special game, with the game bouncing between O/8 and Stud/8 every 30 minutes. I was seated at the must move table to the main game and I CRUSHED it. I bought in light for $200 and 2 hours later had $700 in front of me. I played beautifully. I was patient and calculating and I didn't throw in a single bet that I didn't need. It helped that there were at least 3 complete donkeys at the table. "Chip redistributors", as W has dubbed them. The M.O. of these players is that they accumulate big stacks playing crap hands and getting lucky two or three times and then they blow the whole wad over the course of an hour. I was the beneficiary of quite a bit of it. Here's a hint to all of you Hi/Lo players out there. When your table's chip redistributor calls all the way down to the river trying to catch his A4 low, and then curses up a storm because he can't believe how he could have lost with it, MAKE SURE YOU STAY AT THE TABLE! You are going to win big against this guy. Interestingly, my biggest pots were from playing Stud/8, where my play was razor-sharp. I caught only one hand where I needed to catch, but it was a suck-resuck situation. I had split Queens with a 5 and I completed the bet to 10 after getting two limpers. I was perfectly happy to take down the limps here, representing a strong pair in late position. One guy came in with me showing a 4d. 4th street brought me a 6 and him an Ace. He checked his A4 and I bet again. He called. 5th street paired my 6 and brought him a 2. Now he's straightening up with a low to boot but I still think I'm good since we only have 5 cards. If he has the wheel on 5 straight cards, god bless him. I bet and he calls. 6th street gives me a blank and pairs his 4. This actually helps me because if he needs more cards to make a straight OR a low, the pair of fours doesn't improve him. I checked blind on the 7th card because I know he's drawing to quite a bit that can scoop me. He bets and I peek at my hole card. Lo and behold, it's another Queen! I have Queen full which crushes any straight he might have. Furthermore, if he didn't make a low, I can scoop myself. So I pop it and he's smart enough to just call. I show the boat and he curses his luck. Turns out, he had made Aces up on 7th street, which he knew would have beaten me. He was going for the low the whole time and he had four to a straight early on. He didn't make the low OR the straight but he still walked into a good hand. Too bad.
The table broke up at about 1AM and I had 500 profit in my rack. It was too early to leave so I waited until I could be moved into the main game. They sat me about an hour later and I gave back $200. I was patient, for the most part, maybe seeing only 2 or 3 bad hands I shouldn't have been in, but I just wasn't flopping. The game broke up about 5:00a and I went to collect Viv and W who were sitting at a fun looking 2-5 table. There was an open seat, so I sat down with my remaining $300 of profit. Yeah, wrong move, I know. In less than 45 minutes, it was gone. The last hand, I had AK suited and I raised to $25 preflop, getting two callers. The flop was 456 with a club. I had $115 left and I jammed. I got insta-called by one caller and the other guy called too! The first caller had 3h7h (it was that kind of table) and the other guy had 77. The flopped straight held up (a King hit on the river just to rub it in) and I left disgusted.
I was back at the Borgata the next afternoon with W and Viv and a repeat of the events of the night before was in store. I sat with W at the 2-5 table and promptly lost two buyins. The first chunk was taken out when I had TT. I pumped it to $20 on the button and got two callers. The last caller in position puts in his money and says to the dealer, "I have to flop perfect". The flop is 823 rainbow. I lead out with $55. First guy folds. Mr. Perfect smooth calls. UH. OH. Turn is a 4. I'm not worried about the straight. He checks and I refuse to take the bait. I check. River is an 8. He checks again. I considered firing another bullet but then my sense got the better of me. Good thing too, because when I flipped over my TT, he showed 88 for the rivered quads. His greed got the better of him, because I probably would have committed my stack on the flop. The second killer hand was when I got AJ. I was in the SB and it limped around to W who made it $25 on the button. Now, I've seen W do this with a very wide range of hands, so I came in for the ride. Another guy did the same. The flop came AJ5 rainbow. Really, how could I think I wasn't good here?!? I check, knowing W will fire again representing a big Ace (which she might even have!). The other guy checks and W checks. So much for that. The turn is the 8s. This time, I fire out a cautious bet because I only have about $100 and I want to get it all in. The guy in the middle calls and W moves all in. I also move all in. The guy calls us both! W has AsTs for top pair and a flush draw. I've got top two. The guy in the middle? JJ. The river is a brick and we lose it all. REBUY! I lose the next buyin about 30 minutes later with Ah8h. Again, I'm in the SB and again there's a limp to W who pops it to $20 on the button. Again I call, this time with cards I shouldn't be playing with. The flop, however, is AAQ with two clubs. I make a bet which gets called by both players. The turn is another club. I check and the middle player makes a bet. W, with a shorter stack than me, moves all in for twice the bet. I move all in on top of that, like a moron. The guy calls. He has the flush with 7c9c. Uh, duh! W has AK. I'm third best. The board doesn't pair and I don't hit an 8 and now I have nothing.
I walked away, kicking myself for getting emotionally attached to a hand. I can't fault myself for the AJ, but the A8 should have been given up. I cooled down a bit, trying to find a cheap Pai-Gow table (there wasn't one) and ended up just walking around for a bit. After a while, I was able to get back into the 10-20 mixed game and I made another $260 before we had to leave to get on a bus home. The final tally for the weekend is a cruel negative number. Note to self, don't play sick. See a movie instead.
The ride home was nice because I actually slept most of the way. Also, the Ipod Touch is a blessing to have. Watching movies on it rocks. I'm super happy with it and I'm glad I shelled out the money. When we got back to the Port Authority. Viv suggested we eat dinner in K-Town, which we did at this awesome little place called Pho32. They serve Shabu, which is basically a bunch of raw vegetables and meat that they give you with a pot of boiling water. The water sits in an indentation in your table in front of you and there are heating controls you can access. As the water boils, you cook the food yourself (!) and it was a whole lot of fun. Tasty, too. It was the perfect meal with the perfect friends. Pho32 is also open 24 hours, so now I know where to go if I'm hungry after a future midtown poker binge breaks up at 5AM.
Tomorrow starts Season 6 of Wall Street Poker. Anticipation awaits.