Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Borgata Slaughter

I play better with people I know around. I just do. They don’t have to be sitting at the same table as me, but if someone I know is in the room and I’m on a trip with them, I feel better and play better. It’s irrational but that’s the case.

This past weekend was Columbus Day weekend and the Bond Markets were closed. 3 day weekends are normally spent with the GF now that I’m in a relationship, but she was at her parent’s house for her cousins bachelorette party all weekend which meant I was free and easy to indulge in my poker passion. Ebay furnished me a sweet deal at the Wyndham. $340 all in for 4 nights, of which I only use three but I don’t have to wake up early on Monday. However, despite multiple emails to the entire degenerate crew, and a few promises of maybes, not a single person came down with me. Not Dawn, KJ, Mary, Alceste, Darko, W, Paulie, MB, Viv or Abbie. That’s NEVER happened before! Is poker losing it’s mojo to the masses? Hmmmm….

I wasn’t letting that stop me though. I wanted to leave early on Friday afternoon because the bond markets were closing at 2PM, but the current crisis on the street meant I was busier than ever. Only after rushing in a cab was I able to make a 7:30p bus, a far cry from the 3PM I had envisioned. My Friday night was essentially ruined when I got into my hotel room at 10:30p, tired and exhausted from travel. A normal person, one of good mind and body, would have curled up in bed with a copy of Super System and fallen asleep, ready to attack the day Saturday. But I, gentle readers, am not normal, or of good body or mind. I am, instead, an insane lunatic whose exhortations of a godless world would be met with disaster by the only gods that truly matter and exist; the lords of the poker underworld.

{Too dramatic?}

I hoofed it over to the Taj to get in a few hands of 5-10 O/8. What a mistake that was! I played stupid hands like A488 and got my ass handed to me over and over. Mind you, I hit some really really bad beats too, but my hand selection could have used improvement. $200 later, I limped back home and really went to sleep.

I was up at 9:30a in order to make it to the Borgata in time to start the 10-20 two way game (OE), but when I got there at 10:30a, the game was in full swing. There were enough people on the overflow, though, to get a feeder game going. I sat down with the usual bunch of misfits, and a few new faces, and got pounded. I mean beaten down like a homeless man surrounded by Alex and his droogies. Mercilessly, they sucked out on me over and over again. The worst hand I can remember was Ah-2h-8c-8h in a kill pot. I come in for $15, along with 5 limpers and the flop comes 8d-5d-3c. I flopped a monster here. I have top set, a wheel draw and a made nut low. I lead out the betting. Player 2 calls, Player 3 raises, Player 4 calls, Player 5 calls. It gets to me and I re-raise. I’m trying to tell people where I’m at with this raise (way ahead of everyone), but Player 2 calls my 2nd raise! Player 3 caps it at $60 and Players 4 and 5 call! Player 2 calls. Pot is now at $300 and there’s 2 more streets to go!!!! Turn is Ks, a brick unless someone has KK. I lead out for $30. Player 2 gets frustrated and mutters about “raising with the low”. This tells me that he has the low. Player 3 raises! Now I now *he* has the low too, almost certainly with a draw (straight or flush). So three nut lows are out which means I’m getting sixthed OR I’m scooping. Might as well press my advantage. Players 4 and 5 both call again (which has me really confused) and I raise again. Player 2 gets visibly frustrated and player 3 caps it again. Everyone calls and is still in. $900 in the pot now. The biggest O/8 pot I’ve ever been involved in. I’m in the pot for $180 at this point and I’m thinking at worst I’m getting $150 of that back for a minimum loss. The river is the worst possible card I can think of. Just the worst. The case deuce.

So here I am with: Ah-2h-8c-8h
And the board is 8d-5d-3c-Ks-2c

Counterfeit anyone?

I check this time, and the two nut lows to my left both check. This time, player 4 bets out and it folds to me. I make the call only because I’m getting 30-1 on my money and I’d feel stupid if I win half with my set or live Ace even though I’m sure he’s got it. Players 2 and 3 both call futily hoping the same thing. What does Player 4 show that he cold called every raise on every street? A458. He flopped top two with second nut low draw and he had *1* out in the deck to win. His top two are beaten by my top set and his low draw is dead to 3 better hands. Any halfway decent player, facing that many raises, would have mucked that shit a LONG time ago but he didn’t and I lost.

And so began a long slow slide into oblivion.

There were not one, not two but THREE more instances in that session when I lost to the case card. One other situation in which I had nut low to three other people and the case card fell and two situations in which I flopped top set (Aces and Kings), raised the whole way, boated up on the river only to lose to quads. Just a frustrating session all around.

My emotions definitely go the better of me and I should have left earlier but I stuck it out, reasoning I was better than most of the table and things would turn around. But they didn’t and I dropped a cool G in the space of 5 hours. Horrible.

I was steaming something fierce when I went over to the ShowBoat for the 7PM Sat. nite tourney. 20 minute levels, 15,000 in starting chips and a weak field sounds like my kind of fun. Despite my drubbing at the OE table, I felt like I was relatively level headed at the start of the tourney. I nearly doubled up in the first level by flopping a set of Queens on a scary board. The board read As Qh Ts. I led out with my middle set in EP and got called by one other player. Turn was a blank and I fired another big bet. He smooth called again. River was 3s. This time I checked and he fired big. Way bigger than the betting would indicate and larger than a value bet would normally be. I weighed the options and decided he was trying to buy the pot and called. I was right. He had 22 and was trying to outplay me on a scare card. If my hand hadn’t been strong enough to beat two pair, I probably would have folded there. Midway through level 5, I’m still ahead of the curve with 27,000 in chips when I get felted in one heartbreaker of a hand. Again, I have QQ in EP and see a raise PF by UTG. Cutoff calls and it gets to me. I pop it the size of the pot and get called by UTG. Cutoff calls! I assume I’m up against two big Aces because I would think cutoff would fold any middle pairs he has. Flop is a relatively non-threatening T9x. There’s 20,000 in the pot and I have 14,000 behind. Time to shove. So I do. UTG mucks his pockets 8’s and I get insta-called by the cutoff’s 99. Donkey play to flat call two raises with a medium pocket pair, but hey what can I do.

My poker life is flashing before my eyes.

After a slow and calming dinner, I finished off the night by being brutally beaten yet again at the 5-10 O/8 table at the Taj. Because I’m a glutton for punishment, that’s why! I am now down $1600 for the trip and I’ve been there a whopping 24 hours.

Sleep was fitful. I got up Sunday morning at a comfortable hour (11:30a) and had breakfast at Constantine’s diner, a greasy spoon on the corner between the Wyndham and The Taj. If you ignore the dirty and visible kitchen and concentrate instead on the hot Greek waitress, the eggs and scrapple with OJ breakfast is a good deal. I pondered what to do, deciding that playing 2-4 Limit at Caesars in an effort to hit the $135,000 bad beat was the way to go. When I arrived at Caesars at 1PM, their 1PM tourney was just getting underway and I made the hasty decision to switch over. Good thinking on my part. I proceeded to run over the table I was on, doubling up on my second hand with 4d6d. I limped in EP with this hand and flopped 3s-5s-6h. Top pair and an open ender. Not bad. I fire out and get one caller. Flush draw seems obvious. Turn is a 4h. Since I put this guy on a flush draw, I don’t see him having a str8, though it’s a possibility. I fire again and he just calls. River is the money card, 4s. I boat up and he makes his flush. Just like Rounders. I bet, he raises big, I shove and he calls with QsTs. Ship it!

I start bullying the table a little bit but I lose half my stack when I get too frisky with AJ. Flop on the hand with one other player to my left is AK8. I C-Bet with a good top pair and he smooth called. Turn was an 8. I didn’t figure him for an 8. I thought he either had a weak Ace or a King. So I decided to play fancy and push figuring that at worst I’m chopping but he’d have to make a tough decision to call. I pushed and he called with AK! Nice slowplay. Incidentally, this guy would go on to take my stack and win the tourney. Just saying.

I managed to get back into the game and when the table broke, I was moved to a new table where I doubled through two hands in a row. The first was when I was in the BB with J2o. Flop was JJ9. The SB, who was the only other person in the hand, checks and I check. Turn is a rag. This time, he bets. I call. River is a rag. He bets, I move all in for about ½ the pot and he calls me down with 79. Very next hand in the SB, I get 66. UTG raises to 3000 (blinds are 500/1000) which is a pretty light bet. 4 people come in and I complete for 2000. Flop is A86 with two spades. I check, original raiser bets 6000. Someone in between raises to 15000! I decide that there’s enough in the pot to take it down now and I shove for 45,000 more. UTG thinks and says, “I’m not worried about him (meaning me) but her (meaning the first raiser)”. He looks at me and says, “Ok, I’ll call your bullshit flush draw”. He calls (keep in mind he was the big stack in the tourney at the time) and the first raiser wisely folds. He tables AK and he’s practically drawing dead to my set. W00t! I’m now the big stack in the tourney by a large amount. There’s 19 people left, with top 4 paying. I use my stack somewhat aggressively, since antes are now being taken and pots are decent, and bust two more short stacks on the way. I’m keeping ahead of the curve and make the final table with 175,000 and the chip lead. My nemesis from the first table is right behind me with 145,000. He tells me he wants to be heads up with me for the big money and I couldn’t agree with him more.

Here’s where it gets interesting. We make it down to 6 players and I’m completely card dead. My stack has been whittled to 100,000 for 3rd stack at the table and now I’m starting to think I might bubble or some bullshit like that. Meanwhile, my nemesis, in position on me, is mercilessly hammering the table with his now big 200,000 stack. I try to offer a deal to the table. Take $180 proportionally from the top 4 payouts and make a $120 5th place price (gets his entry fee back) and a $60 6th place prize (half his entry fee back). The deal would take a nominal $70 from 1st place but the chip leader refuses! He’s the only one to refuse and I can’t understand it since it’s in his interest to loosen up play. I plead with him that one lucky card could wipe him out but he doesn’t budge. The tournament director, looking at this tourney entering it’s 4th hour, does some calculation and makes the table this offer, “everyone gets $500 guaranteed and the remaining $700 goes to the tourney winner”. Everyone, including myself, jumped at the offer and finally the chip leader relented! This would mean the top prize goes from $1600 to $1200! He was willing to take $400 off of first but not $70?!? Jeez, where do they find these people?

In the end, I went out in 4th place. I had Ac6c UTG with blinds at 6,000/12,000 and antes at 4,000. There was $38,000 in the pot before we started and I had 100,000 behind. I open shoved with my Ace and got called by the BB with Ah8h. The flop came AA4 and I started hoping for a chop but the turn and river were baby cards and I lost. I had a few chips left and was forced into the next hand, which I won with AJ. The next hand, I was similarly forced in with AT (not bad cards!) but lost to 88 this time. Comeback averted.

We had to wait until the end of the tourney to get the chopped payout and it was at this time that the tourney director told us that it was customary to give “8% or so” as tip and he was going to withhold $40 from each $500 payout. Despite the fact that I think 8% is monstrously high for a tourney tip (I prefer 5% of gross payout), it was also 10.5% of my profit!! That’s a good chunk considering the vig and my losses for the weekend. I didn’t want to say anything in front of the other players, so when the time was right, I pulled the director aside and told him I wanted to put less in. He understood. I ended up giving $25. The tourney winner, the cheap bastard, won $1200 gross ($1080 profit) and gave $20!!! The director put up a bit of a stink and he gave another $20 and walked away. *That* was chintzy. On both dollar terms and percentage terms.

I was dog tired at that point, mentally and physically, and I went to eat dinner at Continental on the Pier. Incidentally, if you’ve never gone to the end of the pier, it’s quite nice. You’re basically in the middle of the ocean with great beach views of the boardwalk at night. I ate a nice dinner, had a drink and was sufficiently relaxed to go play more poker. I was too mentally drained for 1-2NL so I stuck with my original plan to play 2-4 Limit for the bad beat. It didn’t hit, but I had a great time at a really fun table. One guy, a local, was taking an inordinate amount of time for each decision. He wasn’t drunk, he was just playing super seriously. He had the hat and was rocking the sunglasses and the whole thing! We all rolled our eyes at him and the high point of the night came when he had to face a tough decision (you know, tough for 2-4 Limit) and it took so long we called clock on him! The floor came over and said the same thing I said, “Clock? On 2-4?”. We all laughed, except this guy who looked like he was sweating a tough decision. The clock wound down and he mucked. I said, “Too bad we couldn’t get the hole cameras on that one. I guess we’ll see what you had in the televised replay”. He was not amused.

5 hours later, but no bad beat, I got back home and fell asleep. One more day to go. At least I made some money back today.

I woke up Monday morning and headed over to the Taj for the 12:15p tourney. I donked off another $125 at the 5-10 O/8 tables waiting for the tourney to start. This one didn’t go as well as my last tourney but the buyin was smaller. $65 for 10,000 in chips. The Taj tourney is aggressive too, with antes starting on the 2nd level and a better quality of player. I busted out in the 6th level when I raised PF with AJo and it folded to the BB who called. Flop was 79T I had two overs and the gutshot and gambled the flop didn’t hit him. When he checked to me, I bet ¼ of my stack. He called and the turn came with a J. He put me all in. I was only worried about a 8 here but I couldn’t put him on a hand he’d call pre-flop and post-flop with a 8, except 88. I decided to gamble and called off my remaining chips hoping he had QJ (which made sense in terms of the action). Instead he had 87s and I couldn’t hit the miracle river to chop. Oh well.

I had a few hours to kill before I had to make a bus back to see Ali so I sat at 1-2NL. Probably should have been there all weekend, in hindsight. I had two big hands at 1-2NL, both off the same guy. I bought in for 140 and cashed out 1.5 hours later for 425 because I had to get on the bus. The big hands were 3h4h where the flop was J33. I checked in position and my opponent bet out 20 for his AJ. I make a move to my cards like I'm checking my kicker and call. Turn is a 2, putting a spade flush draw on the board. I check again and he bets 25. This time, I raise 50 more. He calls. Now I'm not sure if he has a 3 or not. I boat up with a 4 on the river and bet 25, half his stack left. He calls and I take it down.

The next big hand, 20 minutes later, I check my option in the BB with T8o on a multi-way limped pot. Flop is J94, rainbow. I check and the dealer points to my opponent who isn't really paying attention and skips over him! The next guy bets 10 and the next guy calls and my opponent gets all flustered that he wanted to be the flop. He just calls though, when it gets to him. The turn is a Queen, completing the second nut straight. I lead out for 10 this time and my opponent takes the bait, raising to 30 and driving everyone else out. I assume he flopped something good, like a set or maybe QJ and he made two pair on the turn. I know he doesn't have KT because he wanted to raise the flop, which whiffed for KT. So I re-raise 50 more thinking he has a monster and is going to shove. But he just calls! The river is an Ace. I'm hoping that improves him and I shove for 140 more. He goes into the tank and now I know I'm good. I give off every false tell I can and pull a Jerry Yang by going stone cold silent with my mouth in my hands. He says the most beautiful four words you want to hear when holding the nuts, "fuck it, I call" and shows QT!!! He flopped OESD, turned a top pair and called a shove when the Ace popped?!? Donkeylicious.

I made up my losses for the day in that one hand and added 100 in profit.

Final tally for the weekend:
-$1040 in cash
+5 in ability to bounce back from tough losses
+4 in good food and drink
+2 for seeing Tom Gillespie on Saturday and also running into my father’s childhood friend
-10 for not getting anyone to come with me. I blame you all.


BWoP said...

That two-way game can be super sweet or super painful. Lots of players will stick around with marginal hands, which is generally good for you. But when they start hitting those miracles . . .


tom g said...

+ for seeing me? that is a tough weekend! sorry i didn't catch up with you on SAT night, left my phone at home.