Monday, May 21, 2007

One Night At The Casino

Lester Bangs: Aw, man. You made friends with them. See, friendship is the booze they feed you. They want you to get drunk on feeling like you belong.
William Miller: Well, it was fun.
Lester Bangs: They make you feel cool. And hey. I met you. You are not cool.
William Miller: I know. Even when I thought I was, I knew I wasn't.
Lester Bangs: That's because we're uncool. And while women will always be a problem for us, most of the great art in the world is about that very same problem. Good-looking people don't have any spine. Their art never lasts. They get the girls, but we're smarter.
William Miller: I can really see that now.
Lester Bangs: Yeah, great art is about conflict and pain and guilt and longing and love disguised as sex, and sex disguised as love... and let's face it, you got a big head start.
William Miller: I'm glad you were home.
Lester Bangs: I'm always home. I'm uncool.
"Almost Famous"

All up on the weekend, I am in front when it comes to poker play, both online and at the casino. And all I want to talk about is the casino, as this was certainly an eye opener.

I have come into the poker blogging community earlier than most, later than some. Of the ones before me, I remember how they spoke about Party Poker in it's prime, and how bad the players there were. I saw the tail end of this, and thought it was funny that people could be that detached to their money when sitting in front of a computer and not having to look other players in their eyes.

Let me tell you, those plays are nothing compared to what I saw at Star City casino on Friday night.

I was just shocked at the way some people were playing, and this was early on before everyone was drunk. Here is just a quick summary of what I saw at the $1/$2 $80 max table:

- Guy sits down next to me and post the $2 blind from late position. There are a few callers around and he checks, then the big blind raises it to $25. Middle position player re-raises all-in to $100+. The guy sitting down with his first hand looks at his hand and grimaces, then says "Man, I didn't want this first hand" and then reluctantly calls. The Big Blind folds. Middle position turns over AJo and the guy playing his first hand had KJc, which doesn't get there. Wow, on both counts! But he had no choice he says, he had to call with KJ suited!

- 3 runners see a board of 7JJ7 and first to act bets out $40 into a $160 pot. 2nd player calls to be all in and third player also calls. River is a 2, and the last two players check. The all in player shows 22 for the win. He had the absolute nut low on the turn, but called the all-in for half a buy in, when in all likely hood he could have been drawing dead. No idea what the other two players had.

- Yet another player go all-in on their very first hand pre-flop with AJo, telling everyone that he had no choice, he had to get it in there. Then one of his friends on the rail said if he had 24o, he should do the same. He joked, and said that was just a raising hand. I laughed, because I thought raising with 24o was smarter than going all in with AJo preflop first hand.

There was god knows how many times players would bet $60 on the river with nothing but 7 high into 3 runners, and of course they got called. I saw one player rebuy at least 10 times, and he was sitting down before I even arrived. It seemed to be that the mentality of most of the table was "I've got nothing, so only a bluff will win it for me, therefore I have to bluff big". Never did the thought occur to them that "My opponent has a hand he won't fold. Maybe I should give up on this one".

Late in the night, when I won one of the four hands I won all night, I really got to see how little these guys thought about the game or were paying attention. I was in the 1 seat, so my view of the 9 and 10 was blocked slightly by the dealer. A real maniac was in the 10 seat, so it was crucial to see if he had raised or not.

I had AQo in late position, and called a raise to see the flop 5 handed. Flop comes Q high and it is checked by both the players in the 9 and 10 seats. I couldn't see though, so I tried to look around the dealer and said "Did he just check?". Unfortunately, all the dealer heard was "check" and moved the action to the next player. I realised what happened, and said "Oh, I meant did he just check, I wasn't going to check…Ahh, too late." I was a bit disappointed because I wanted to bet but I guess I missed my chance. Then, the player behind me bet $5. Wow, all I could think was he must really have something to bet that little to get everyone else in, and then get me to raise so he can come back over the top. For me though, I only had another $35 so after I put in a raise, I was going to be pot committed anyway. So exactly that happened, every one else called and then I raised to be all-in. The original raiser called, and everyone else folded. Huh? I was a little shocked, but ok. The other player turns over QJ, and my hand holds up.

Out of the four hands I won (one other was a chop), only one was without showdown. My winning hands were 88 (sucked out vs JJ on the river), AQ (hand above), AJ (hit trip jacks) and AK (duel ace flop, took it on the turn). The other hand I chopped was A3, so I guess I was playing a little tight. I was playing too tight. I folded both 55 and 99 pre-flop to big raises early on, when I was not adjusted to the table and saw both flop a full house without enough of a taste for the other players to get action too. But it took me a while to get adjusted and then the table turned sour as other players got drunker. I decided to pull out just before 1am and grab something to eat, while watching the footy on the big screen. After that, I hung around as the guys I was getting a ride home with were still playing, just watching from the rail as I saw the same stupidity replayed again and again.

I left in front by just under $50, the other guys I knew there and my lift home, both ended in front $300 or so, maybe more. They were a little more accustomed to the action than I was and hit a few more hands than I did too. I just never got on a roll and never really got used to the action, though I was proud that I could call a $66 river bet when I had the trip jacks, and the river put a possible straight on the board. Sure, it's a good hand and you should probably call for your last $66, but it wasn't the nuts and there were a lot of hands that could beat me. I need to learn that I don't have to have the nuts to stick my money in the middle some times.

I know I had the same reaction the first time I played at some of the home games, and it took a little while for me to get used to the style of play. This was something else entirely, and I know that if I really focused I could make a lot of money at those tables. Perhaps I will return soon.

As a comment on the casino itself, all our dealers were top notch, and most had a bit of fun with the table as well. The rake though is a killer. For the $1/$2 $80 max table, the rake is 10% capped at $8, but there is also a $5 per hour time charge per player. That just gets excessive. I understand they make far less on a poker table than they make on a blackjack table, but hey give us a break. You need some big pots just to cover your expenses there.

At least we got free parking I guess.

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