Monday, January 14, 2008

Casino Poker Part 1

Bobby Dukes: Why does this bag smell like doughnuts?
Bill Henry: That is the smell of death. That is the smell of the death of your failure. That is the smell of the death of your defeat. That is the smell of the death of your shame...
Bobby Dukes: It smells like doughnuts.
”Blackballed: The Bobby Dukes Story”

It has been an exhausting week. I decided to sacrifice a home game on Friday night so that I could have a better game at the Star City casino on Saturday. We had a lot of yard work to do Saturday morning anyway, so crawling in at 7am before that would have made life extremely difficult. And also, the Friday night home game looked to be turning into a spread limit game with some new guys, and had all the indications of being a real melt down. I was told later that it was actually quite fine but I needed the night off anyway.

When my poker playing buddy and I got to the casino, they had nearly every poker table open which was good to see for a change. They also had 4 of the new digitalised poker tables ready for people to play. I still don’t get it – if I wanted to play online, I’d stay at home. They proved to be far less popular than the other tables which is a promising sign I think.

The wait to get a seat was just under two hours, which is about standard and good for what you would expect on a Saturday night. During the wait I wandered around and watched various people blow what would be a months salary for me on roulette and blackjack.

When we did eventually get called for a seat, it was when they opened up a new table so that was good – everyone would be starting with the same size stacks and we had our choice of seats. It also meant, as another player pointed out, that the dealer’s chip float was empty. At Star City, you can’t buy chips at the table, you have to do it at the brush at the front of the poker area. So the dealers float is just to make change and take their rake. As everyone was on their first buy in, and the brush gives you an appropriate chip break down so there is no real need for change to begin with so they do not start with any chips in there. As we were committed to a long evening at the table, it would be interesting to see just how much rake they take from the table over that period.

The rake is at the $1/$2 level 10% up to $8, and $5 per hour time charge. That’s a bit steep, but let me tell you it is worth it when you see the calibre of players here.

I also had a prop bet on with my buddy over who would get 63 first – our word is good enough to confirm a winner. After getting everything all around 63, I finally had it and lost the exact amount of the prop bet on the hand – and then he got it the very next hand so I just snuck home on that one.

The table had 4-5 Dutch guys at the beginning who all knew each other, and were straddled/re-straddled here and there. I was card dead so didn’t see much action but the few hands I did played I pulled in some decent pots so it was ok.

I think I’ve subconsciously reached a new level in picking up tells because for the third or forth time I have been having some great accuracy in that department – mind you, some of the players were chomping oreos, figuratively speaking.

My first real hand was an open ended straight draw that got there on the turn or river – either way the raiser in the hand did not call my all-in with the nuts on the river but it was a tody pot that gave me a platform to build from.

When all the Dutch guys left at once, the table dynamics changed considerably, and this was when I made the most of my chips and fishing ability. The new players were either first timers in a live game or just plain calling stations – except for one guy, and I’ll get to him later. Perfect example was in a hand my friend was in – KJx on the board and no flush by the river, he is last to act heads up and bets out an ok amount – an amount that to me looked like a value bet. One of the new players that we had already labelled a donkey called with nothing but Ace high, and my friends pair of jacks were good, and he knew they would be too.

It was now that I could start making a few moves, as the pre-flop action was very passive with only a few raises and even fewer re-raises. If there was action pre-flop, it tended to be a $20 opening raise that no one would call – and why would you without a really good hand? Saw a $20 opening raise get popped back for a $70 all-in – original raiser called and was disappointed to find out his 66 was not in front, JJ was. Anyway, I was more than happy with this as it allowed me to see more flops and play it from there. I made a couple of moves to win medium sized pots and found that nearly any bet would get multiple calls on the flop, but the second bullet on the turn would work more often than not. So I built up a bit of a stack – not chip leader, but certainly above average.

And then I made some more chips the way I usually do – making people pay far too much for their draws and then they missed. I had a new player in the 10 seat heads up, with the board showing 9TJQ. I had KT, but there were two hearts on the board. It was about his 3rd hand at the table so I didn’t have a read at all so when he bet out for $15 on the turn, I thought it was time to put it all in and see. If he had AK (no raise pre-flop) then good on him, otherwise it is likely we’ll chop or he can pay severely for his draw. All in would be another $50 or so, and he called – with 52h. Thankfully, the last heart did not come, and he stood up and left. Not in disgust mind you, just because that was his only buy in and he was out. Wow – if I had only one bullet, I think I would find a better time that that to get my money in the middle.

Nearly an identical hand occurred later when I had TPTK heads up with AQ after I made a pre-flop raise. I bet again on the flop a nice amount to see if he was interested and he called. The turn was not a scare card except for bringing a flush draw, so I way overbet the pot to finish it there. The dealer says to the player, who was a nice guy and we’d been chatting, that he had to call for all of his chips, $55 or thereabouts. I said “Or you can fold you know, that’s still an option”. He called and had a 9 high flush draw that also missed. Phew – but a couple of nice pots no less.

It was about this time that the real action started to heat up and some amazing hands occurred. I will save them for my next post in a few days to space this out a bit. Stay tuned…

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