Wednesday, August 10, 2011

August 2011 Trip (2 of 3)

I woke up Saturday, August 6th, in Harrington, Delaware at the Holiday Inn Express. Depressing. I wanted to be out of the hotel and on the road by 8am because I knew it would take approx. 2.5 hours to reach my next destination, which was Charles Town, West Virginia. I wanted to arrive well before 11am in case there was a tournament. 11am seems to be a common time for weekend tournaments to start and I was hoping to play in a cheap one. the one I *really* wanted to play in was the $150 'Survivor' tournament in Grantville, PA that was happening at 11am that same day, but it didn't work out for me to be in that area at that time. Really, I messed up the whole trip in terms of scheduling. If I had planned more thoroughly, I would have done the entire trip in reverse, which would have allowed me to:

A. Be in Grantville, PA for the 11am $150 'Survivor' tournament (The tournament ends when the money bubble bursts and everyone makes the same payout, hence 'Survivor').
B. Be in Maryland Saturday night for a real Maryland Crab Dinner.
C. Avoid the possibility of traffic caused by the Nascar Pocono Speedway race on Sunday.

Unfortunately, I did not plan the trip to this level of detail and ended up missing some of these great opportunities. Such is life, as my Mom used to say.

Where was I? Oh yes...Charles Town.

It was an arduous and boring 2.5 hour drive to Charles Town, but I did arrive when I wanted to, only to find there were no tournaments on Fridays and Saturdays. The good news is, the reason for this is that the room is *jumping*. The Hollywood Casino (a large 22 casino national chain) in Charles Town, WV is a racino, like so many others. In this case, they race thoroughbreds, and the track has a grand history to it. Up and away from the casino floor, in a wonderful niche that they've carved out that feels a bit like someone's attic, they've managed to place around 25 poker tables. By the time I sat down to a $1-$2 NLHE table at 10:45a, there were at least 15 or more tables going, including a few $2-$5 tables and a $5-$10 table. There were also more women playing at this room than in any other room I've seen on the trip. I made some inquiries and found out that the reason why the room was so busy is that it's the only viable option within a 2 hour drive, so it draws a lot of people who have no other place to go. It's a testament to monopoly, really. This is why Atlantic City has some dead poker rooms on weekends while you can get a completely full poker room during the week out in the middle of nowhere.
I was seated at a new table and bought in for $200. I was mostly up at the table, which wasn't particularly aggressive or difficult. I did get involved in one memorable hand, though. Here's how the action went down:

I was in MP with 5 5. There is a raise to $12 from UTG+1 and I call. Seat 8 calls. Seat 10 min-raises to $24. The BB calls! UTG+1 calls! It gets to me and I start debating in my head. I'm 100% certain I'm behind here but a few factors make me think about calling. First, I'm positive the min-raiser has a monster hand that he might get married to. QQ, KK or AA is my range for him. 3 betting by min-raising in a multi-way pot is SUCH an amateur move that I can safely put him on these three hands and, more importantly, safely assume he will stack off if I flop a set. Second, there are so many callers that I can also assume that many high cards are already in play, making the odds of me flopping a set slightly better than normal. And yes, I know the *true* odds are the same, but if you know information about the cards in play, it affects the odds for that particular scenario.

With all of this in my head, I make the $24 call, fairly confident that everyone else will simply call as well. So I call. And then Seat 8 moves all in for $41! Crappies. After cold calling the first bet, he shoved with a small stack and re-opened the betting. Seat 10, who could now shove for $180 if he wanted to, just calls! Unbelievably bad play on his part. That leads BB, UTG+1 and myself to also call.

So now it's 5 way into a $200 pot pre-flop. I flash my cards to an Asian guy to my left who I've been chummy with and he whispers to me exactly what I've been thinking, "You're definitely going to hit this flop." The cards come out 5 6 T. Bingo. UTG+1 checks to me and I hesitate for a second. I decide to try to represent AT and I float out a silo of $100, which covers all the remaining players except one. Seat 10, predictably, calls for his last $85. The BB, after a small tank, also calls for his last $70 and UTG+1 folds. My guess is that he had two high cards (Ak, AQ, KQ) or small pairs which missed. Everyone except Seat 8 shows their cards and I'm up against QQ from Seat 10 (knew it) and 9 9 from BB. The board runs out with a K on the turn and a K on the river. I do a little dance and expect the $500 pot to be pushed towards me when Seat 8 flips over...K 6. Ewwww. I'm lucky he was short stacked when he pushed and I was still able to make a profit from the side pot, but still. Ewwwww. When asked he just said, "They were suited so I said, Fuck it." I hate it when guys like that get rewarded. But this is why we love the game, right?

I left my Charles Town session after 4 hours at +$165, my high point for the session, which I was happy about. I had a two hour drive in front of me to get to the Hollywood Casino in Grantville, PA and I didn't want to dilly dally.
One note about the Charles Town area. Charles Town, WV is a very historic area, only 5 or 6 miles away from Harpers Ferry, the site of the famous John Brown's Harpers Ferry raid slave uprising in 1859. It is also the location of the place where West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland all meet in the Shenendoah Valley. It's such a pretty location that George Washington himself convinced most of his family members to buy property there and their descendents still live there to this day. In fact, Charles Town is named after it's founder, Charles Washington, who was George's Washington's youngest full brother. And, the Antietam battlefield is only a few miles away as well.

The reason I am expounding on these wonderful qualities to the area is not to convince anyone to visit. It's simply to point out that I did not get to see any of this great stuff. One of the great tragedies with my poker trips is that I am often pressed for time to the point that I cannot indulge in the sightseeing that I would like to partake in when I am in a particular area. This is my curse. With great power comes great responsibility. I'll avenge you Uncle Ben!

Sorry...I turned into Spider-Man for a second there.

Anyhow, Boo-Hoo to me. I can't always see the sights. Maybe I'll come back one day.
So on to Grantville, PA I went. Grantville, incidentally, is only a few miles away from Hershey, PA. Chocolate-town. I was expecting a lot of Hershey stuff but I didn't see anything. I guess it's restricted to the town of Hershey itself. The Hollywood Casino in Grantville is pretty nice, I have to say, even if it's poker room could use some stretching out. It's located near the track (another horse racino) and open to the casino floor. Also, there's no cage, which is wierd. You buy your chips from the brush desk. I got to the poker room at around 6:00p and was immediately seated at a $1-$2 table. This turned out to be my best session of the entire trip and I was able to cash out at around 10:30p with $750 for a +$550 profit!
The session started wierdly. I'm a pretty affable guy and I like to loosen people up sometimes by making table banter, just to get people in a good mood. On the wall opposite my view was a TV screen that was tuned to the TV show COPS, with the sounds turned down but the closed captioning turned on. If you've never watched the show with closed captioning, I think it lends an even more surreal quality to the proceedings. It was really distracting to me because every time I looked up, I couldn't help but read the captions and laugh at the transcripts that were occuring. For example, a woman was being arrested in some rural area (read: she was White, Tattooed and as Trailer Park as it gets) and the police were asking her about the drugs they had found in her car.

Cop: Do you know why we stopped you?
Drug Addled Girl: No, I have no idea.
Cop: There was a strong smell of Marijuana coming from your vehicle. Have you been smoking weed in the car?
Drug Addled Girl: No, I..
Cop: {Interrupting} Have you been smoking weed?
Drug Addled Girl: Just a little. Is that illegal?

I burst out laughing at the table. Some of the other players started watching it and also thought it was pretty funny. Except for Seat 1, who got real indignent with me. He said, "This show is really scummy, you know? To be making money at the misfortune of others." That kind of made me feel bad, although I tried to slough it off. But then Seat 1 said the magic words which made me feel a whole lot better: "I mean, I've been there before. Arrested. It's not fun."

Says you, my friend. For the record, after having thought about it for a bit, I do feel like some slack should be cut for people who are accused of crimes. But COPS doesn't show people who are accused, they show people RED-HANDED breaking the law. There's a difference, I think, between publicly humiliating someone based on a charge where only a court case can prove guilt and humiliating someone who's being filmed running from the police with a gun in their hands!

Anyway, back to the action. My run at this table was very very good and it helped that I got some decent cards to work with. I made a decent pot when I flopped a set of 7's vs. an AK where the flop had an Ace. I also got paid off on a river value bet with my KK vs. a guy's KQ where the flop was Queen high. When he paid off the river he said, "I just didn't believe you." That's what I love about weak tables and weak players. No matter how much you show yourself to be a solid player, they just convince themselves that you're bluffing (of course, sometimes you are!). And then, after two hours of playing and chipping up to about $375 from $200, the hand of the weekend went down.

I had 7 9 on the button. UTG raises to $15, a strong bet from UTG from a super tight amateur player. I immediately put him on a big pair. Just like my previous big pot at the previous Hollywood Casino, I saw this guy as having a big pair that he just wasn't going to lay down. This informed my play later, as you'll see. Seat 4 calls and then Seat 5 in MP moved all in for $26. I asked the dealer out loud, "Does that raise re-open the betting?" This particular dealer was pretty awful (though the rest were perfectly fine) and I wanted to make sure he understood what I was asking. He blinked, like a deer, and I asked him again, "Does the all-in raise re-open the betting?"

The dealer replied, "Yes, that's an all-in".

I did the math in my head and then answered back, "Wait a minute. If the initial raise is $13, then shouldn't a valid raise be $28? ($15 + $13)"

The dealer, and several other table participants came back with, "No, the re-raise needs to be twice the raise. Since the all-in was $26, or twice the $13 raise, it's a valid re-raise and the betting is re-opened."

I knew I was right and I pressed the point again. "The raise was $13 up to a total of $15. Another $13 raise would make the total $28."

Finally, I got through to the dealer who finally agreed with me and announced that more raising was not possible. Actually, it was possible, by me and the SB and the BB, but not by anyone after that. But the point was the same, which was that if I called, I could expect that the original raiser could only call if it folds to him. After publicly announcing that I was trying to figure out if I could be re-raised if I flat-called, I made the call for $26 with 79o. The UTG raiser and Seat 4 both call and we see a 4 way flop.

The flop comes down 6 8 9. This is an almost perfect flop for me. Yes, there is a diamond draw on the board now, which worries me a touch, but I flopped top pair with an open ended straight draw to go with it. Now I have to figure out if the initial raiser has the premium hand I thought he did, or just AK or AQ. It checks around to me and my suspicion is that I am leading the field with top pair/OESD. I lead out for $25, thinking this will win me the pot right now. Also, it's a feeler bet. If the original raiser shoves on me, I can make a decision about what I want to do knowing exactly what he has. It gets to the original raiser and he min-raises me to $50! OMG, what an amateur play. Unless he flopped a set or a straight, min-raising is about the worst play imaginable. Seat 4 folds to the min-raise and it's left to me. It's a super easy call: $25 into a $175 pot with 13 outs to improve my hand (four 5's, three 7's, two 9's and four 10's). So the pot is laying me 7-1 on a 4-1 draw. The only hand I can worry about is TT, which I just don't think is in his range for the line he's taking and the read I have on him. I call and the turn is gin, 10. He doesn't even consider a 7 to be in my range, and I don't blame him, so he pumps out another $50 value bet. I shove for the rest of my chips and he snap calls for his remaining $85. He tables K K, Seat 5 holds on to his cards (and later tells us it was AQ) and I show 79o and the table explodes! The river bricked out and I dragged a $475 pot. Seat 6, the *second* best player at the table (ahem...), is a middle aged Asian guy who's super impressed with my play. He can't stop gushing about it. "Wow, that was so great. So *that's* why you were asking about the raise"...etc, etc. An hour later, he's still deconstructing the whole thing with the guy to his right. Seat 1 (the guy with the arrest record who hates COPS) says, "Wow, I thought you were a lot more conservative than that!". Seat 6 says, "I gotta call you Tyson," and starts shadow boxing muttering, "Seven Nine, Seven Nine" while throwing allegorical punches into the air.

I found it kind of amusing. I'm glad the play was appreciated but it's not god-like or anything remotely close. Some of the crappier players at the table commented, "You play that crap? How lucky for you!", but the better players understood what the intention was. Stacking a weaker player. I don't mind calling a raise, or even a re-raise, to a player that I KNOW WILL STACK OFF for the right flop. The choice of opponent is critical here. A better player would have pushed me off on the flop (or tried to since I doubt I could fold given my outs and his stack size). An even better player might have folded his Kings given the pre-flop information I gave out about wanting to know whether the betting had been re-opened. I practically gave away that my hand was speculative and that straight type of flop could have (and did) hit me very well. But some would say the hand played itself and the Kings couldn't do much, other than shoving the flop. So I speculated and I mined some gold. It happens, but I'm happy at least that I had a game plan for calling, in position, that particular time.

The rest of the night went well for me and I finished +$550 on the session, finishing up around 11:30p when I started to get really tired. I drove to the Days Inn where I was staying, in the middle of a monsoon as the sky had opened up after three days of oppressive humidity, and fell asleep quickly, visions of big pots and adulation still floating in my brain.


Memphis MOJO said...

"Wow, I thought you were a lot more conservative than that!".

The dangerous player is one who is conservative, but also willing to mix it up once in a while. Good job.

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