Saturday, December 22, 2007

A trip to a brick and mortor

I got a message from Bodie25 on Thursday, he's got a itch to go play some limit hold'em at Treasure Island, an Indian casino in the area. In Minnesota, all they can have is limit and spread games. I've never really tried to hide the fact that, frankly, I suck at LHE.

My live bankroll has been doing just fine. I'm in no danger of going broke and hanging out with Bodie25 before the Christmas insanity begins sounds like fun!

We call ahead, and get on the list for the $2/$4 and the $3/$6. I'd prefer to play the $2/$4 cause I suck at LHE, but I've got enough with me to play either. Surprisingly, we really only waited about 20 minutes when we got there which was awesome. The last indoor places you can smoke in Minnesota are the Indian casinos and the only real place you can escape the smoke is in the card room.

I sit down first. I feel more comfortable right away. It seems that Mike McDermott knew what he was talking about and I spotted the suckers almost instantly when I sat down at the table. Profiling the people here was about as easy as it comes. Tourists and gamblers but amazingly, no rounders and by that I mean, there were no students of the game at this table.

All of this is good and all, but I still suck at LHE. Priority one: figure out how to play at a table full of tourists and gamblers.

I started out kind of tight. On the very first hand (in the BB of course), I'm dealt 75o. No one raises so I see the flop. The 34T rainbow. After being at the table for a few minutes, I figured out that the guy that raises the flop, will continue to raise every flop, but being new here I fold to the raise. As it turns out, this guy is the only one at the table that ever raises. Without hesitation the dealer delivers a 6 on the turn. With a table full of calling stations and a guy that never stops raising...I miss out on a nice big fat juicy pot. A pair of tens took it down. Ugg!

I steam on this for a while and decide I need to see more flops and call more myself. Not sure originally why I thought this was a good idea, but I'm trying to learn here.

Bodie25 joins the table shortly after this. He's got a lot more experience than I do at LHE cash games and proceeds to build a stack of chips. I'm impressed that he was really never into his buy in and just starts winning.

The original strategy runs my $100 right down to $32. CRAP! This isn't working! I'm down $68 and this is only the $2/$4 game. While playing, I've been concentrating on what makes this game work. The original guy that raises everything had left and the table now sat with Bodie25, myself and 8 calling stations. I realized at this moment, the table needed a maniac or at least the image of one. So I change the plan to adapt to this table. I start to raise in the blinds and LP when I have hands that draw well. Suited and connected cards. But more importantly, I change my table image. Instead of just sitting their quietly, I start chatting it up and talking.

This new strategy does the trick and I start winning some pots and I did in a way that was causing other people to get off their game. It was apparent to me that it was more important to be drawing to a strong hand then sitting there with top pair. Most of the people at the table would call everything to the river with a pair. So to win more pots, you need to be willing to gamble on getting to something bigger. I'm also raising the whole way now. I'd raise before the flop, on the flop and on the turn and much of the time, with only a draw. This show of confidence and strength was often winning me pots by getting the stronger hands to fold and the middle pair players to keep calling.

A new guy sits down to the table. He looks to be a working stiff kind of guy. Not particularly crafty and probably just plays this game casually. Since the table dynamics were changing a bit, I find the hammer in MP and raise it up. The flop comes AK9 rainbow. Not particularly good for the hammer, but let's see if we can do a little advertising. I raise the flop and he instantly calls. I'm pretty sure he's got an ace or king...duh. The turn is something unimportant, I check and he checks. The river is a card that I could care less about because my marketing budget has been spent. He bets out and I fold, turning over the hammer. He gets this really surprised look on his face and the table gives up a nervous chuckle. Let's see if I can get this to pay off.

In the mean time, Bodie25 is turning up the heat as well. This guy is a limit machine. He's just grinding away and building a stack.

My stack is trending in the right direction. I'm using my live poker skills of reading players and situations the best I can and its working well. Most of these players have no idea how much information they are giving off at the table and their betting patterns and card ranges are very ridged.

I get back over my buy in again. Whew! That's a relief! I'm in the black and in the SB and find a suited A7. So raisy daisy it is! Unfortunately, the guy to my immediate right had raised as well. He's just recently sat down. He's an late 20's early 30's responsible looking guy. Nice jacket, button up shirt. His range of hands for this move I guess to be a bigger pocket pair or larger ace. My raise here is to test his metal. This clears out the calling stations. The flop is A9? rainbow. With my top pair in hand, I raise it up and he also raises. I call. let's not get crazy here, I have top pair and what I can only guess to be the worst kicker. I put him on AK to AJ to KK, QQ or JJ. The turn gives me a 7. Cool!, my kicker is now a made pair. If my read is correct, I'm ahead! We do the raising dance one more time. The river is a blank. Something low. We raising dance one more time. I turn over 2 pair, he turns over a set of 9s. On the turn, the set had entered my brain...I should have listened. This cost me ~$40. Not good. I'm back below par, again.

In the mean time, Bodie25 continued to just fleece the table. I'll let him tell the story, but I watched him win the most amazing pot with J2. Most of the streets were capped, and he was the one betting out! He felted one person and devastated 3 others. Absolutely amazing!

I continued playing the loose but smart strategy. I recovered all my money and made a bit more. I was also getting some people ticked cause I was "sucking out" my draws. What these people failed to realize was that I was playing hands that were drawing more than one way. I usually had at least one over card, a straight draw and a flush draw. So when I hit something on the river, I could usually beat top pair.

Now this total isn't really impressive. I started getting too tired to play my best and decided that a $31 profit was enough. The best part was I figured this game out. Had I not been tired and decided to stay, I'm quite positive I could have made even more money. Bodie25 was making a fortune. He more than tripled his buy in.

With profits in hand, we drove home. The fog was intense and the trip took a lot longer than normal. Which was fine, the conversation of the game was plenty good.

Let's hope we can keep finding tables this soft!