Back in DAL to ring in the New Year…on my couch

I made it back without any trouble. I spent a little while playing poker (more on that below) and then made the short drive to Dallas. On the way, I used my super freaky psychic powers to predict the exact location of what may be the only Cracker Barrel between here and Shreveport. Before I started driving, I decided I was in the mood for some of their Chicken Fried Chicken and I wasn’t going to be stopped.

After driving 50 miles or so without seeing a Cracker Barrel, I said to myself, “You are stupid and you’re almost out of gas. Just stop at the next exit with a reasonable food selection and a gas station and give up on Cracker Barrel before you get stranded…” But then I saw a sign that told me it was only 36 miles to Tyler, TX and I said to myself, “Tough it out! If there’s a Cracker Barrel in Texas, it’s in Tyler, Texas! You have enough gas to go a measly 36 miles, wimp. If Kramer had the guts to see how far he could go after he hit empty, you can push it a few more miles to score some Chicken Fried Chicken.”

Sure enough, Tyler had a Cracker Barrel and several gas stations. One a side note, I got 450 miles on my last tank of gas, which means I got 25 mpg. That’s pretty stinkin’ good in my car. Maybe the hail damage has improved the aerodynamics or something. Golf balls have lots of dimples, just lot my car. What am I talking about?

Today’s poker recap

I played $1-2 No Limit for about three hours today. The lady from yesterday (with the reliable tells) was back, but everyone else was new. Here are the hands I remember:

Not long after we started, I got QQ on the button. There were 2 limpers and I raised it to $12. Both blinds called, everyone else folded. The flop came KTx, the lady bet out $10, BB called, I thought for a while and folded. I knew there was no way I was ahead here and I was right. The lady had flopped a set of tens and I think the other guy had a K. The turn was another ten, and the lady took down a big pot with quad tens. I gave myself a little pat on the back for making good reads and not getting married to the queens.

A bit later, I got K6s in the BB. Two people limped and I checked the option. Flop came down K67 rainbow. I bet out something like $8, everyone folded to the button who called and the SB called also. Turn was the 5 of hearts, putting two hearts on the board. SB checked, I bet $15, button folded, SB check-raised me all-in (for about $65 more). I thought for a while and mucked my two pair face-up. SB told me he had 34h for a turned ignorant end of the gutshot straight to the 7. My turn bet was a little small (assuming the 5h didn’t make someone a hand), but it was more of a feeler bet with “value” overtones. I’m still thinking about whether I could’ve played this any differently, but so far it looks like the answer is “no”.

A few orbits later, I got K9s in the BB (I didn’t catch cards for a while… this seems to be a theme for me lately. I don’t know if I’m running bad, just imagining things or playing too tightly.) with, as usual, 3 limpers. The flop came down QcJsTs, giving me a straight to the King, a King-high flush draw and a gutshot straight-flush draw. I bet the pot, UTG and Hijack called. The turn was a red Queen. I didn’t like this card, but I also needed to protect my hand in case someone had a bare Queen or maybe an Ace. I also felt that I needed to find out where I was at in the hand. I bet about half the pot. This was also a value bet since, assuming no one had filled up or flopped a higher straight, I was a big favorite to win the hand with my straight or a flush. Again, both players called. Now, I’m concerned. The river was a blank, non-spade. I checked, UTG bet a little more than half the pot, Hijack called (!!), I thought for a while and, again, mucked my K-high straight face-up. Both opponents turned up AKo for a flopped broadway and it turns out I was behind from the beginning. I was pretty surprised that neither player raised on the flop considering there were many cards that could come to either counterfeit their hands or flat-out lose them the pot.

About this time, my $100 buy-in has dwindled to $33. I’m UTG+1 and I have AJs. I raise it to $12 and everyone folds around to the BB who calls (this is my buddy who turned a gutshot to the 7 with 34 earlier). Flop comes three low cards, BB bet out $12 and I fold. He hadn’t bet out like that since he sat down and since he was playing trash most hands, I gave him credit for at least a pair.

Next orbit, I have QJo in MP1 and I limp (this was uncharacteristically loose for me, but I only had $21 left so I was looking to gamble it up, I guess). Several other players limp behind. There weren’t many pre-flop raises at this table, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have tried limping here. Flop came down JTx rainbow. It was checked to me and I got one caller who held J9s. My Queen kicker held up and won the pot of about $45.

Two hands later, I picked up AQs UTG. I raised it up to $12 and get 2 callers. Flop came AK9. It was checked to me, I moved in for my last $33 and it was folded around to the lady. She studied me for a while, so I did a little acting and mostly stared blankly at the table and occasionally looked up and away from her stare. By now, I knew she probably had Ax (she probably limped into 75% or more of the pots at this table) and I definitely wanted a call. She mumbled a call and said, “Do you have Ace-King?” This pretty much sums up the action at this table. It seemed like it never occurred to her that I might have AQ, AJ, AT or A9, which would all beat her A8o. She had called 6BB cold in middle position with A8x, and then called an all-in from an early position pre-flop raiser (I was also known to be tight as one of our dealers and another player had been joking about that earlier). Anyway, the turn was a K, leaving her drawing to an Ace or King for a split and my Queen kicker held up to win a $115 pot.

I left not too long after that because I’d been playing for three hours and it was time to get back to DAL. To sum up, I was down to $21 thanks to some bad beats and a tough beat, but then more-than-doubled-up twice in three hands to go up for the session.

I write too much about live poker sessions. I need to get a life or a muzzle… for typing.


Headed home a little early

I was getting bored in ATL, so I figured I’d just head back to DAL a little early. I left this morning at about 11:30 and rolled into Shreveport about 8:00 tonight. I went and played a little $1-2 No Limit Hold ’em and made a little more than $40. There weren’t too many notable hands, so I won’t bother re-capping very extensively. My big hands were:

QQ (I was in the BB) and I took it down on the turn with very, very aggressive betting. No overcards hit the board and everyone folded to a $45 bet.

Later, I got TT, but folded on the river. I was in the CO and raised to $12 pre-flop. I got 2 callers and the flop came King high. It was checked to me, I bet $15 and got 2 callers (I had position on both of them). The turn put a 3-straight on the board (457) and we checked around. The river was an 8. First to act bet $20, next player folded, I thought for a while… counted out the $20 as I considered calling, then I saw the bettor show his cards to the player on his right. I figured there was no way he’d pick his cards up and show a bluff to his neighbor, so I mucked my tens face-up and knocked the table. I should note that I don’t think he knew I saw this tell. In fact, there were two later hands that I felt confirmed my read. One hand, he picked his cards up similarly to what he did before and eventually showed a strong winner. A few hands later, he didn’t pick his cards up after a river bet and he was called on a bluff. All in all, I’m very, very confident I made the correct laydown. He also had a tendency to slow-play top pair by checking the flop and betting the turn. I think his check on the turn was a trap and that’s why I didn’t bet to block

Later, I got AQs UTG and raised it to $12. Only the BB called. Flop came Q28 (8 of clubs), BB checked, I bet $10, BB called. Turn was the Jack of clubs, BB checked, I bet $15, BB called. River was the 9 of clubs, giving me the A-high flush, BB checked, I bet $20, BB thought and called. BB showed Q2o for a flopped 2-pair. Turns out I was lucky.

I also made a couple decent bluffs at small pots. One was against a lady who had a couple reliable tells. It was easy to tell when she was drawing and when she had a made hand that she was betting for value. Obviously, I bluffed when I knew she’d been drawing and the turn didn’t help her. Mostly, I was just using position and I turned K8o into a winner.

I think I’ll play a few more hours (either $1-2 NL or $4/8 Limit) in the morning. Then I’m off to DAL.


Day 2 in Shreveport

Well, tonight did not go nearly as well as last night. First, I played some more $4/8 Limit Hold ’em and I lost about $75 over about three hours.

My best hand of the evening was when I flopped two pair with K7o in the BB, but the board had three diamonds. It was a four-way pot, so I checked, hoping to check-raise an aggressive player on my right. Unfortunately, the second player to act bet, the aggressive player just called and I called intending to bet out on the turn if no diamond came. Of course, a diamond came off, we all checked around, a blank came off on the river, second to act bet and everyone folded.

I only won two hands all night. First one I took down was when I had KTs on the button. Two players limped, I raised, the BB and limpers called. The flop came down pretty ugly. Everyone checked to me, I bet and took it down. Second one I took down was with TT in the SB. Everyone folded to the button who raised. I just called and the BB folded. This was a mistake as I should’ve re-raised and it was dumb to let the BB in getting 5:1 on a call. The BB could’ve come in with any two cards getting those odds. Also, a re-raise would’ve told me more about the button’s hand. The flop came down 8-high. I checked, the button bet, I check-raised and he folded.

That’s it. Those are the two hands I won. My best hand pre-flop in over three hours was TT. I also got AQ, which was beat by AK; KJ, which missed an open-ended straight draw and a K-high flush draw on the river; and… that’s all.

I’ve been working very hard on my table image and general attitude. In a “No Fold ’em Hold ’em” game, there’s no point in being intimidating or being perceived as “good”. People don’t mind you beating them out of a pot if they feel like your buddy. So, I’ve been trying to act as relaxed and nonchalant as possible while I’m playing. Not only does it make people more relaxed and less hostile when I play aggressively, but it also seems to actually keep me in a good mood.

Even though I consistently (albeit gradually) lost for over three hours, I wasn’t even phased when I left. In fact, when I cashed out, one of the girls in the cage said, “Did ya’ win?” I said, “Nah. Not tonight.” She said, “You sure don’t look like you lost!” I said, “Well, that’s poker. I can’t win every time I play.” The best part was, I understood exactly what I was saying. While we were talking, I was thinking about which of my poker accounts will reimburse this little trip. I understand that I had an edge over probably everyone that I played with tonight. The cards didn’t cooperate, but I can’t control that.

I even noticed that my attitude helped keep me from tilting during the tournament today. When dude rivered a set to beat my top two pair, I just threw my cards in the muck and said, “Nice hand, man. Well played.” I didn’t even have a hint of sarcasm in my voice (that’s pretty unusual for me). I was disappointed that I lost the hand, but I wasn’t angry or in danger of losing my cool. When my stack was destroyed by the guy that woke up with AA in the BB when I had KK, I just passed the chips over and said, “Good hand.” No big deal. I went on to gradually rebuild my stack to a decent size before going card dead. I feel like I’m making a lot of progress with the psychological aspects of my game.

Anyway, after I lost for a while at $4/8, I burned through 40 bucks at the blackjack table. There’s nothing much to report here. The dealer just took my lunch money and reinforced his statement that “Nineteen never wins.” He later added the caveat, “Well, it wins for me.” He was right.

Shreveport wrap-up

So, I ended up losing $7 at blackjack. I also lost $34 playing $4/8 over about 6 and a half hours. That works out to about -.67 BB/hour. Over such a small sample size, that number means virtually nothing. I also bled off $115 at the NL tournament at Horseshoe this morning. So, I’ll be reimbursing about $150 from my online poker accounts. I feel pretty good about that considering how bad I was running.

I’ve had a good time in Shreveport and I look forward to making another trip out here some time next year. Hopefully, I’ll make it out for a tournament or just to play some $4/8. After just playing two short sessions at $4/8, I’m confident I could sit in a bigger came with no trouble. I wasn’t the least bit impressed or intimidated by anyone I played with. For now, I’ll continue grinding it out at $1/2 online. Maybe I’ll move up to $2/4 soon.


Day 1 in Shreveport

So far, so good. I played $4/8 Limit Hold ’em for two and a half to three hours and won $43. I figure that’s somewhere between 1.5 and 2 BB per hour, so I’ll take it. I didn’t experience much variance because I was card dead for most of the night. I didn’t play many hands and I won most of the ones I played. I felt I played pretty well, but it was a pretty soft game, so that’s not saying much.

There’s a $60 tournament with re-buys tomorrow morning at the Eldorado and a $115 single buy-in freeze-out tomorrow morning at the Horseshoe. If anything I’ll play the Horseshoe tournament, but I’m still debating. I kind of think I should play it just to see what I can do.

I also won $33 at blackjack. My buddy was playing a $10 table, and I was watching and got bored, so I jumped in. I bought in for $20, put $5 down and then was told, “This is a ten dollar table, sir.” So, I sheepishly put in another $10, lost it and then went on to turn my last $10 into 50-something bucks. Not too bad for a pure luck game.


Vegas: Day 3 report

There’s bad and good to report from today. I’ll get right to it. I played two sessions of $2/$4 Limit Hold ‘Em at Aladdin. I lost 73 bucks in about 4 hours or -4.5 BB/hour. I just seemed to get crap cards and any time I got a good hand, someone drew out on me. Good example: I had AKs, raise before the flop and get 2 callers. Flop comes AKx, giving me top two pair. I bet and one player calls. Next card is a J. I bet, get raised, call. Next card is a blank. I check, he checks. He turns over JJ for a set of Jacks to beat my two pair. Normally, I wouldn’t mind “the best hand winning” if he’d ever shown it was the best hand. More importantly, I was better than 10-to-1 to win the hand after the flop. That was the worst one, but that stuff happened a few times and I got terrible cards (I literally won 5 pots in 4 hours. And I’m not talking big pots with showdown. I’m talking any pot at all.)

Now the good: I played another session of $2/$4 tonight and made $50 bucks in 2.25 hours or +5.55 BB/hour. It’s not a very long session, but I played very well and seemed to be making good decision. My table image was key as they saw me as very tight/very aggressive. Ironically, the hand I remember most was one where I folded. I had AA in early position and raised with 2 callers. The flop is 885. I bet, get raised, then re-raised and I fold. Obviously, I was beat, but I knew I had to be beat by some crappy cards. I was glad my ego didn’t take over and get me married to the hand. I laid it down and eventually saw both other players turn over an 8 (89 and 8J). I was 75% to win the hand before the flop.

So, I lost 73 this morning, won 50 tonight for a 23 dollar loss today. Overall, that puts me at 194 down, overall.

I doubt I’ll gamble any more tomorrow, but if I do, it’ll be something like throwing a 25 dollar chip on the BlackJack table and letting it ride till I either lose it or break even for my trip. That sounds like a fun way to end things.


Vegas: Day 2 report

Not too much to tell so far. I lost 28 bucks in a Hold ‘Em tournament and made 55 dollars at the 5-dollar blackjack tables.

The only notable hand in the tournament (again, the structure was almost silly) was when I was dealt KQ in the big blind. 3 or 4 callers and the flop came K45. I bet, three calls. Turn is a rag. I bet, get 2 calls. River is a rag. I bet, get one call. I lost to a set of fours. Now, why the lady never raised when she flopped a set and the turn and river didn’t fill any draws, I’ll never know. Anyway, that hand took most of my stack and I just kinda’ wasted away after that.

Played blackjack at Bellagio and lost 40 bucks in about 15 minutes. Basically, the dealer just kept busting everyone up. I had a blackjack… and it was a push. She got 20’s and 21’s like they were going out of style.

Played in the $1-$2 NL Hold ‘Em game at Aladdin. I thought games like that only existed in fairytales. Turns out they’re real as can be. Problem was that luck was frowning on me. I bought in for 60 bucks. About the second hand, I got TT, but the lady to my right raised it to $20 (yes, this is a $1-$2 blind game with a max buy-in of $100) and since I hadn’t seen her play yet, I figured I better fold. Couple hands later, I get 55 and she does the same thing. Again, I fold. A few hands later, I get KK UTG. I make my standard raise to $6. I get two or three callers. Flop comes ten-high rainbow. I bet $10, guy goes all-in (for about $35 more), everyone folds to me and I quickly call. Turn is an A, river is a blank. He turns over ATo for Aces-up to beat my KK. I’m down to 15 or 20 bucks.

I fold for a while till I get AJo. Lady to my right makes it $10 and I call. Flop is K-high, she puts me all-in, I fold. I buy another $40 in chips. Several hands later, I get AKo. I make my standard raise, get re-raised to about $20 and then there’s a caller. I move in and both call. Flop is 835 rainbow. The original re-raiser checks, the cold-caller moves in quickly and the other player folds. Turn is a K, river is a blank. Cold-caller turns over 33 for a set of threes to beat my Kings with an Ace kicker. $100 gone.

So, why was I saying this was such a great game? Because it was. I only wish I had about $1000 sitting around for me to play in that game. I think I could turn it into $2000 in about 6 hours, assuming luck didn’t continue to frown on me. Having a guy hit a 5-outter on me on the turn stinks. Having AK, getting called by a 33 that holds is frustrating, but at least I was the dog to begin with. Whether he should’ve been calling 10x the BB with 33 is another story altogether.

I guess I should mention that all of these people were very loose and sometimes aggressive. I rarely saw a premium hand shown down, even when there was a lot of action. Also, I think at least two of the people at the table were off-duty dealers for the casino. I’m not sure how that works.

So, the bright side to everything: These people were so easy to read it was scary. When 33 hit his set, and moved in, I was certain he had a set. Earlier in the evening, when a guy made the nut flush on the river, I knew it immediately. When the guy to my left had a big fat pair, I knew it before he even bet. I did get my money in as about an 80% favorite and if I’d won that hand, I would have doubled-up my buy-in. So, about 80% of the time I turn my $60 into $120 in about 15 minutes. From there, I’m pretty sure I would’ve just run over the table.

I’m actually considering trying again tomorrow, but I need to take time to cool off first and evaluate it. After all, I did lose $100 tonight, regardless of all that odds talk and gibberish.

Trip summary: Lost $58 yesterday, lost $113, down $171 overall.