Saturday, February 7, 2009

Cracking out in AC midweek

One of my friends from my poker circle, Chris, had gotten a free mid-week room at Bally’s and invited me to go. Having nothing else to do, I accepted her gracious offer. And a good thing too, because I’m running well so far on this trip.

I went down on the noon bus and arrived at Bally’s at 2:30p. After checking my bags with the Bell Captain, because Chris wasn’t able to check into our room until she came down later that night, I walked over to the Pier Shops on the boardwalk. That’s the large mall-like pier on the Ocean in front of Caesars. I needed underwear because I had forgotten to pack it, like an idiot. Luckily, there were plenty of men’s shops in the mall and I picked up 6 new pair just like that. Traveling is fun, isn’t it? Armed with my bag o’ briefs, I hunted for a poker room. Caesars was the best option as it was closest and probably had the best action going on the Boardwalk (other than the Taj).

I sat down to a 1-2 NLHE table with 200 and immediately sensed something wrong. I was the short stack at the table, with stacks ranging from my 200 to 1500. The three big stacks, 1500, 900 and 700 were all to my left (never a good thing). I played tight against these big stacks and folded every hand for 10 minutes when two guys in the center of the table, in position on the big stacks (HELLO), got up. I immediately moved seats and felt more comfortable about where I was sitting. And then the fireworks started.

The guy to my immediate right, whom we will call Lucky Bastard (LB), was clearly a novice even though he was sitting on a 700 stack at 1-2. How do I know this? Because a hand occurred where he was in the BB and it folded to the SB. When the inevitable question of chopping the blinds came up, LB was genuinely confused as to what they meant. It took a full 30 seconds of explanation to convince him that he wasn’t being scammed somehow. If he *did* know what they meant and he was pulling an act, he should be given a Golden Globe of B.S. A Crazian (Crazy Asian) in seat 3, sitting on a big 1500 stack, paid me off nicely when I turned a nut flush and I was sitting on $150 profit and hoping to build it into a multi-rack night but LB was winning everything he set his eyes on. After paying me off on my nut flush, the Crazian dude raised PF to $18 and got calls from a young kid in seat 4 and LB in seat 5 (I was in seat 6). The flop was Js8s7h. Crazian bets out $50 and the young kid moves all in for $150. LB calls and Crazian starts going into the tank. 30 seconds later, he moves all in over the top for $1500! LB now starts sweating and finally shoves his chips, clumsily, and says, “I guess I’m all in too”. The pot is over $1500 and I’m dying to see what’s happening. Young Kid flips over AJ for top/top. Crazian has JJ for flopped top set! LB sheepishly shows As7s for nut flush draw and a dead pair. He’s drawing to 7 clean spade outs and, naturally, hits it on the river to get up to over $1700 in his stack. He stacks another guy at the table on the very next hand when he calls a $20 PF raise with 6d8d and flops the nut straight! A guy with 99, who flopped another top set, gets stacked to the tune of $300. So sick. So in the midst of this madness, while he’s still slowly stacking his chips, scrounging on the floor for the 3rd rack to collect his winnings in, I look down at AA in the SB. Here comes the pain! It limps to seat 1, a guy who sat down 10 minutes ago with $200 and seat 1 raises to $15. LB calls by casually flipping three red birds forward and now I have a dilemma. I’m about to raise, no question, but I really want to just isolate one of these players. How much to raise to? I decide on $50, which is really announcing a big hand and the first raiser calls, which pretty much tells me he’s got a big pocket pair (or maybe AK suited). LB calls like it’s an annoyance that he has to pause from his chip stacking. The flop is a craptacular TT9. Against two players, I don’t know where I am here, but I’m first to act and I have to find out. I bet out $100 and seat 1 goes over the top all in for $173. That confirms to me he has an overpair and I’m crushing him. If I call him for the extra $73 and he has the Ten, then so be it. But my situation gets much worse when LB says, “Well, I’m all in too”, for $2000+! I muck my Aces face up and seat 1 tables KK. LB has….AcTc. For $50 PF. Against two raisers. Wow. The King never materializes and LB drags another big pot. After going from $700 to nearly $2400 in 15 minutes, LB does the smartest thing he can do and racks up and leaves. Two shorter stacks, also playing donkalicious, bust out shortly afterwards and all the dead money is gone from the table. So I am now exactly even from where I started an hour ago, I get up and leave too. Table selection is an important part of playing for money, and I’m proud of myself for having the discipline to say that the table has now become too needlessly difficult to play at.

I take the jitney (that’s the shuttle bus that runs through the streets of Atlantic city for $2.25 a ride) over to the Taj to play in the 5-10 Omaha Hi/Lo game. The game runs with a full kill on scoop pots over $75, the action is loose and the play is generally terrible. The serious high limit Omaha players in Atlantic City play at the Borgata, but the older locals who have terrible hand selection criteria, play at the Taj at the lower limits. It’s a wonderful game to just relax and take my mind off of things. Of course, it’s also exactly the same game that a former floor person I met in Tunica said had the, and I quote, “absolutely most miserable players in all of Atlantic City”.

After playing for a few hours, and grinding out a pleasant $35 profit (much more in free drinks), I got the call from Chris that she was arriving at Bally’s on the bus. I took a cab over and we met up in the room before going out again to play at Caesars. I played for another two hours or so at Caesars, grinding out yet another $130 in profit (no big hands to describe) before calling it a night.

After waking up at 10:00am, we hit Caesars buffet for breakfast (eh) and got back onto the tables. Unfortunately, the action in the room was still anemic because it was too early, so we headed back to the Taj to play in the 12:15PM tourney (50+15). While sitting down at my assigned table, I saw a familiar face at the next table and waved over to my friend Magda, with whom I work as a dealer at a private loft party held twice a year in SOHO. The party, incidentally, is SICK. Very Bacchanalian, but that’s another story I won’t divulge. I’ve never actually played poker with her before, just dealing, so I didn’t know how she’d play. But after the tables broke down into the final two, I got a good idea. I busted out in 13th, out of 55, never really getting anything going. Chris ended up cashing in 4th place and Magda had the chip lead throughout the ENTIRE tourney, from the first hand. Evidently, she had doubled up on the first hand and never relinquished the lead. By the time she got heads up against the old grizzled guy who was chip leader at my table, she was a 2-1 chip leader, but the guy crushed her on two successive hands. The first, she had flopped two pair and he pushed with a flush draw and hit runner runner straight. The next hand, she flopped another two pair and pushed against his flopped club flush. They had been battling for a good 30 minutes and just a few hands before she’d offered a chop, with her giving an extra hundred to him, but he declined. {Sigh}.

After the tourney, I played some more Omaha and was up a quick $135, mostly on the strength of one awesome hand. I had 2d-4h-8c-10c. Before you get upset with me, I was in the cutoff and I was the kill button, having scooped the previous pot with AA2x. So I had this craptacular hand blind and about 5 people called. I checked (duh) and the flop was a very pretty 6s7c9c. So not only did I flop the nut straight, I have a straight flush draw to go with it. The flush doesn’t mean much, being Ten high, but having the clubs in my hand means it’s less likely that anyone else will make THEIR flush. It checked to me and I bet it out. EVERYONE called. This made me a bit nervous as I can easily get counterfeited here. The turn was Ad. This put a low on board, which halves my nut high, but I have a decent low to go with my high. So when it checked to me, I bet it out again and got two callers. I prayed for the perfect river card, and it came, the 3h. NUT/NUT baby! It checked to me, and I bet it out. The first player called and I got so excited that before the second player called, I started to say “Nut….”, and then I caught myself. She said, “I hope you only have nut high, I call”. That’s when I let her in on the bad news. She had 25 for the low and the other player had a set of 9’s but couldn’t fill up. Yay!

Chris was doing poorly at the Taj after cashing in the tourney, so we headed out to dinner on the Pier and had a blast. We ate at Phillips Seafood, which is normally pretty high priced but I’ll be eating there again after discovering the tasty prix fixe meal deal. $29.99 gets you a salad or a bowl of any of four soup offerings, a steak/shrimp combo and a slice of really good cheesecake. The steak was delicious and the soup was an outstanding Cream of Crab chowder. Great stuff.

I was sated, so I went back to my room to watch some TV and digest. Chris went off to play on her own. After dinner, up 600 on the trip so far, I went down to the Bally’s poker room just to see the action going on. It was pretty quiet but I sat down at a 1-2 table anyway. It was a DREAM table. 5 absolutely clueless players, all of whom were making some godawful plays. The only three players who knew how to play poker were sitting on my right and we were all giving each other glances as if to say, “how do we not have all the chips at the table yet?!?”. Well, luck was a huge factor. Gutshot straight draws that hit were common. Also, I couldn’t get a starting hand to save my life. 3 straight hours of Paint-Little will frustrate anyone. I was proud of myself to not start playing rags, but it’s awful to finally get a starting hand of JJ, and get two raises in front of you and have to give it up pre-flop. After literally 4 hours of trying to crack the table, I finally gave up at 4AM after dropping $150. It was so hard to get up from that juicy ripeness, but I had to get up in the morning for a long travel day to Mohegan Sun.

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