Monday, August 10, 2009

A Table Change That Made All The Difference

So my plan was to cash in some Wynn chips I had lying around and then head down to MGM Grand to play $1/$2 NL. After cashing the chips, I decided to cruise The Strip down. I really love riding along The Strip and being surrounded by all the sights and sounds. However, with all the construction going on it turned out to be a bad idea. My buddy Long Island Mike plays a session around noon at Harrah's. At this point, it was a little after 2 pm so I decided to make a detour and stop at Harrah's to see if he wanted to get some lunch. When I got there I found him in his usual $1/$2 NL game and sat down behind him to shoot the shit and see how he had been. It had been about a week since we played together so I figured he would have some decent stories to tell me. He still needed to play about 90 minutes to qualify for his daily bonus and since I was in no rush I just sweated him and we caught up. His game broke right around the time he made his hours so after cashing out we decided to slide across the street to The Mirage to eat at BLT Burger. Each of us enjoyed the Black Angus half pounders we got, but I still say the best angus burgers in town belong to Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay. I've had burgers now at Strip Burger at The Fashion Show Mall, Le Burger Brasserie at Paris, and of course the aforementioned BLT Burger at The Mirage. There's just something about Burger Bar's burgers that are just aces in my book.

With our stomachs full we set out for poker glory by checking out The Mirage Poker Room. I've only played here once way back when I was out to Vegas on a vacation but I have always loved the room. Something about the history behind it, knowing I am sitting in the same room that the classic players used to frequent daily to relieve millionaires and home town heros alike of their bankrolls. There were four tables going, each with 8 - 9 players at each table. Long Island Mike is a table selection swami and after surveying the scene he settled on the table he wanted to play at. Instead, though, the floor woman sat us one table over since there were to seats available and we wanted to play together. Right off the bat Mikey loses about half his stack. After about 30 minutes of play, he makes the choice to get a seat change to the table he originally liked. I hang on at our original table but soon after he leaves I find myself reaching in my pocket to reload. I just couldn't hit a flop with pretty good hands, like AKs and AQs. I got my fair share of small pocket pairs but failed to flop any sets. I thought it was going to be one of those sessions. Finally, I was able to get a table change to Mike's table. However, the floorman did me no favors. Another table had broken about 10 minutes after I had went to the desk to ask for the table change. The floor, instead of honoring my request first, starts seating players from the broken game in the three other games that were going. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I should get first dibs on a seat in the game I requested and then the players from the broken game should fill in the remaining seats at the tables. I made a comment to Mike when I sat down that the floor man didn't give me the time of day because I didn't tip him. The dealer took offense to this but I still stand firm in my belief. The bigger rooms just don't tend to care as much about taking care of the players, with the exception of The Wynn and possibly The Venetian, but I haven't played there enough to know, just what I've heard. Places like Bellagio for instance could give a fuck about low limit players. Hell, they don't even take your player's card there and on top of it, if you do play long enough and request a $15 paper food comp, you are expected to tip $5 for it. WTF? So I am netting $10. Ok, that's not necessarily bad if I've only played 5 hours (I'd be getting $2/hr which is above industry standard,) but it rubs me the wrong way that I need to pay off the floor to get one.

But I digress. I reload once again upon sitting down at the new table I am into the game for about $360 (a little over $200 in front of me and stuck $160.) I pick up AK on the button but an Asian player who has just reloaded for $200 has made it $15 to go from middle position. I take some time and consider what I should do. I could three bet but the way I've been running I decide to cold call the $15. A loose/aggressive African American player in the blind calls and an early position limper closes the action with his call. The flop comes down ace high. The blind and early limper check to the raiser and he fires $25. I re-pop it to $75, making it 3x the Asian guy's bet. I figure this should get the limpers out and I'll get to play him heads up in position with what is most likely the best hand. I am praying I have him dominated with something like AQ or AJ. To my surprise he shoves over me. I insta-call because I am not going to out think myself. If he flopped a set of aces, well then it was just unlucky that the case ace fell. As I always do, I instantly turn my hand over and wait for his reaction. He meekly turns over wired queens and his two outer never gets there. Sweet! I stack him and with the other $30 in the pot I am now ahead for the session. Maybe this is a sign of things to come.

The very next hand I pick up AQs in hearts in the cut off. This time an older gentleman raises preflop from middle position and I flat call along with a couple others. The flop comes down queen high. Gin! Top pair, top kicker. It gets checked around to me. I get the size of the pot which is $40 and only get called by older gentleman. This makes me wonder as he doesn't seem like the kind of guy to call a large bet with only a draw. To go with the queen there was a jack on board. The turn brought a blank and he checked again to me. Tommy Angelo's words were ringing in my ear when he says if someone plays passively against you assume they are weak until you get further notice. I made a 2/3 pot size bet on the turn and got check raised shoved. I think that is what he meant by further notice. I muck my hand face up (something I really gotta stop doing) and this induces the old man to reveal his hole cards to me (that is one upside I've found to mucking your hand face up, those that are so proud of their hole cards will show you what they held.) I was looking at aces which I felt was the case, or he flopped a set of jacks or queens. In any event I knew I was beat and I think it was a pretty good fold, since the pot was only laying me about 3 - 1 to make that call. I could be drawing dead or at the very best to 2 outs which is a 22 -1 shot (if he specifically kings I would have had 5 outs with 2 queens and 3 aces left in the deck for a 8.20 - 1 situation which is still the worst of it.)

So I gave away about $90 in that hand, but I felt like I was playing really well and this line up was definitely much better than the one at the previos table. It always a good sign when limpers are willing to call fairly large preflop raises with hands that do not work well for stacking opponents post flop. There were way too many hands to go over or even accuarately remember so I will conclude with two hands that I believe are the best played hands of my fledling career thus far. To give you some background information, I am seated in seat 10 to the right of the dealer and to my left in seat 1 was the loose/aggressive African American player. This guy was one hell of a player. He played like how I imagined Doyle Bruson played when he was a Texas rounder in the 60s and 70s. He had a mountain of chips in front of him, anywhere $600 to $800 at any given time. He was the type of player that gave action to get action. He was paying for the big pots he played by picking up lots of small and medium sized ones all the time. He probably played about 70% of his hands and raised approximately 80% of the hands he played. I immediately had a ton of respect for the guy because I've always wished I could play that style. However, you have to be true to yourself and since I am relatively tight I used that image to beat him out of the follow two pots. Both times I had position on him which I think is the lesson to be learned from this. Tommy Angelo, an author I mention often because he has such great insight into the game, has stated that his bread and butter in poker comes from the last three seats: the button, the cut off, and the hijack seats.

The action happened so fast in the first hand that I do not remember all the particulars. Suffice it to say it was raised preflop and I am on the button with AhKd. The flop comes down all middle cards with two hearts. This is the type of flop that could have possibly hit him, especially with suited connectors or a small to middle pocket pair. He leads out for $45. After some deliberation a thought came to mind. Being that I held the trump ace for the heart draw, I decided to call his bet and if any heart, king, or ace fell on the turn I was going to push no matter what. I figured this gave me 13 cards to push with on the turn. A heart fell and to my surprise he checked to me. I pushed my stack in and after tanking for a few minutes he released his hand. Beautiful. Now I know this guy respects my game and I can get him to lay down some hands.

On the second hand, I raise on the button with wired 7s to $18 (I meant to make it $13 but somehow an extra nickel got in there.) Seat #1 calls my raise and we take the flop heads up. He checks to me and I bet out $35 a flop that comes king high. I was trying to represent the king, but unfortunately he came along. I was really hoping to spike one of my 7s so that I could suck out on him if he actually held a king. The turn brought an ace and I immediately fired out $60. Hell, I figured if he didn't believe I had a king, maybe he'll believe I had an ace. I did raise preflop and the hands I have shown to this point have all been premiums. He lays down the hand and I honestly believe I won two fairly large pots without the best hand. Hopefully I am starting to get the hang of this no limit stuff. Only time will tell, but I do feel like I am improving and that's my focus along with grinding out enough cash to pay the bills.

Hours Played This Session: 4.17
Take: $153
$ Per Hour: $36.70

Month to Date: $153
Year to Date: $4
Hourly Rate Year to Date: $0.06
Total Hours Played Year to Date: 65.75
Sessions Played Year to Date: 13
Win/Loss Record by Session: 6/7 46.15% win rate

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