Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Documenting the experience

Here's the deal. I'm a writer. So part of me wants to write interesting stuff on here.

But I'm also trying to be a full time poker player. And so at the moment it's way more important for me to make money and learn from my mistakes than it is for me to be an interesting writer.

So, for better or for worse, I'm planning on using this space to "document" the experience. To recall hands. To understand what I was thinking at various points of this journey.

I'm giving this whole disclaimer because I don't feel like I really had that interesting of a poker evening. Tonight was not necessarily the story or chapter I'd put in if I were writing a novel.

But it might be the kind of thing I blog about. Here goes.

I spent the past two nights watching the two night/4 hour premiere of 24. I sort of intoxicated myself to get the full terror experience and so I did not go to play poker on either evening. Good for me for not playing drunk. Bad for me for taking two days off when I need to be focusing on making rent. I mean paying my blind.

So after a day of running errands with my lovely and beautiful wife, I head down to the strip around 10pm not really sure what to expect on a Tuesday night. I figure I'll go to the Wynn or Bellagio but the route I take happens to pass the Hard Rock so I decide to check out the room there.

Guess what? Hard Rock has no poker room. I found this out after circling the premises by foot. It's a real shame too cause I had a nice parking space.

But seriously folks, How can the Hard Rock Casino not have a poker room? Shouldn't it be the hottest game in town?

Do you think they'll build one in time for the poker boom?

I get back in the car and try to go to the Wynn since I'm already on the East side of the Strip.

That's how much the crossing the Strip feels like crossing Times Square to me. I feel so wrong emotionally about entering that traffic. It's easier to just go to something on my side.

But of course since I don't really know where I'm going I drive past the backside of the Wynn and the first chance I get to make a left puts me on some road that turns into a highway and next thing I know I'm exiting somewhere near the Rio and the Palms.

If the Maloof brother's paid to have this street not exit anywhere near the Wynn and instead basically take you to the other side of town to their hotel then I applaud them. Cause it worked.

Inside the Palms they have two small poker rooms side by side. I walked by the first and wandered into the 2nd where there were only 4 tables, 3 in use. The sign on the wall said something about it being a high stakes poker room but when I asked what they were running he said all 3 tables were 2/5 no limit. 1000 max.

Who knew I was a high stakes player?

I can't even make fun of 2/5 being called high stakes at the Palms cause at least they have poker there. They could be like the Hard Rock.

Have you ever tried to check raise someone all in at the Hard Rock and you can't cause they don't have a poker room?

I buy in for 500. I get Ace King early and give away 60 bucks when nothing hits.

I get suited connectors. I flop two to the flush along with middle pair 8. I've gotten this situation each session so far in Vegas. Perhaps I need to get some sort of "automatic day shuffler" for my life because I haven't seen this exact situation as much back in the days when playing on the internet was not only popular, it was encouraged.

Of course I hit my flush on the river and of course the dude sighs and then bets on the river.

Not again. Can I fold this time?

There's a chance he doesn't have a flush because he bet the turn too. But damn these bad actors with their sighing and then betting.

His bet though is only 40. It's small enough that I'm happy to just call. And yes, he has the nut flush and I'm immediately down around 150.

The dude to my left was loose aggressive. Not so much preflop. But he was playing way too many hands and then firing out on the flop and turn hoping to win pots.

I take him on with king 9 suited. Not my finest moment. But against a dude playing every hand it's definitely playable.

Flop comes out with a king and two rags. I check to him. He bets 15.

This bet actually confused me a little because he had been betting larger amounts to steal the pots. Maybe this time he wants a call? Everyone folded it back around to me.

I decide to call. I made the decision that I'm playing king 9 against him because he's playing too many hands and that top pair is good enough against him. If he has a king with a better kicker I'm prepared to pay him off.

Turn another rag. He bets 40. I call instantly.

River misses too and this time he bets out 100. I thought he'd bet less. If he has two pair or King 10 or King Jack or King Queen then I'm gonna feel pretty dumb. But this 100 dollar bet can also definitely mean that he has nothing and that betting 100 is the only way he can win the pot.

I call.

He says the old "you got me" and then holds his cards out as to muck. But he doesn't actually drop them or turn them over.

Now I'm not sure if this was a dick move on my part but I don't show either. I want to see what cards he has even if I've won the hand. Again he mutters something to me about how he knows he's lost the hand and is trying to muck his cards. But he won't throw them in the muck. And I continue to not show mine either.

Dealer finally says lets see some cards. I say I called him. I'm also more than happy to have him muck so I can muck mine too, win the pot, and no one will ever know what either of us had.

He must have finally realized I meant business cause he turns over his cards and shows ace 8 off suit.

I show my king 9.

He started to complain about my calling him down with king 9. But that wasn't me being a calling station. That was me playing this guy as a specific opponent.

The guy to his left actually defended me by telling him "Dude you're playing every hand and raising since I came to the table."

This hand got me back above the 500 starting point. It also helped my mindset. It's amazing how much easier it is psychologically to play poker when you're ahead rather than behind.

In future sessions I still need to raise more. I'm limping or calling alot preflop with medium pairs trying to hit a set. But it would be good for me to be raising with a wider selection of hands to keep my opponents more off balance. It'll also help me get paid off when I actually do have a big pocket pair.

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