Sunday, April 6, 2008

Heading to Iowa - Live poker recap

Bodie25 and I headed south today to Diamond Jo's Casino in northern Iowa.

They've been running a $40 + $10 +$5 tournament on Sundays for the Hearland Poker League. 66 max players. The $40 gets you 3000 chips and the $5 Delear Tip add-on gets you another 1000. The $10 house fee seems pretty high if you ask me.

We got to the casino at 10:30 AM in order to be sure we could enter the tournament without trouble. Also, its nice to sit in the cash game and start eyeing up the competition. What's this you say? OhCaptain is playing in a cash game?

Yes. I played the $1/$2 NLHE cash game. I actually feel much more comfortable playing cash games live than I do online. When I play live at the casino, so many people appear to play with their cards face up. I feel so much more comfortable live at knowing when people are weak or strong. The players at these casinos in southern MN and northern IA just don't put much effort into hiding. Maybe I'm fooling myself, but people just look scared when they are bluffing around here.

There were no tables seated when we got there. Lists were forming, but no action. Bummer. No problem. We got legs and feet, so the two of walked around the casino to see what there was. Our first stop past the slot machines was the Craps table. I have no idea how to play craps nor do I really care to spend too much time there, but Bodie explained many things to me. I really wasn't persuaded to give it a try. It just seemed like such a -EV.

Next stop, Mississippi stud. This game looked interesting, but they pay-offs were REALLY slanted to the house. Definitely -EV. Not to mention, it would cost a MINIMUM of $25 to see the river. Yowch! And all you have to do is beat the house's hand. Nice!

The PA announced that our table was seating.

When I sit down in a cash game, there is one thing I really hate to do. I hate being at a table with a friend and especially seated in the same corner. Bodie and I were going to be at the same table, but thankfully, we got to be on opposite ends. It makes for a long drive home if one of felted the other.

As the table formed, I started to gather as much information on each player as I could. There were quite a few regulars that the dealer knew by name. I've never gotten intimidated by this because I've watched many of the regulars at the casinos I play suck at cards. When the action started, a lot of pots got limped and limped a lot. 5-6 people to a pot. Uff da! I took this as an opportunity to mix it up and raise it from LP. For the most part, this strategy worked.

One gentleman at the table, an older man with a ponytail, he liked to call my raises, but he hated the second bullet. I'm not sure what he was calling me with, but a second bullet would turn his face a bit scared. One hand, he had called the second bullet, we saw the river and he mucked when I started counting out chips. Most of the time, I was firing with air, but by progressively betting pot, each raise just seemed scarier.

This strategy worked but wasn't making me rich. I'd give some back by being aggressive but having to give it up when I knew that I was beat. Splashing it around was fun. I don't normally play this way but when I do...

This first session lasted until 12:45 and then we were supposed to cash out and get to the tournament. I really considered cashing out at 12:30 when I was up about $40 and take a break but I sat at the table and ran it down to a $21 profit. Not much, but its better than losing money.

I wasn't really happy about my table placement. I drew table 3 seat 1. I hate seats 1 & 10, and to a slightly lesser degree seats 2 & 9. To me, they have too big a blind spots. My favorite seat is seat 7. Wow...that's the seat I sat down to at the cash game...go figure?

The tournament structure seems to start slow. Blinds were 25/50. But they basically double every 20 minutes. The play of the players wasn't great, but people were calling second pair or worse. Unfortunately, in order to beat second pair, you need to have hand better than second pair. CRAP! I wasn't really getting much for cards. I stole a couple of pots and stayed at around 4000 chips for as long as I could.

The blinds got to 200/400 and I still had 3900. A fairly weak player raises from M-EP to 1000. It folds to me in the BB. I found JTo sitting in front of me. I really figured him for a middle pair. He didn't look like had a big hand and I'd seen him lay a few hands down. I counted all my chips and raised it all in. He snapped called me and turned over his monster. TT. After the turn, I had a flush draw and straight draw, but alas, no love on the river. I got the usual chatter about pushing all-in with JT. He only had 4800 chips in front of him and my read was right...what would you do?

I walked around for a while, I was steaming a bit. Was that play stupid? How could you call with TT? How could I be playing poker for 3 hours and never see a pocket pair bigger than presto? Why can Fuel win with presto and I lose? Do those people really believe that a slot machine is a +EV?

This casino is small by comparison to some that I have been to. Not sure how common this is, but there is a Burger King in here. An order of fries seemed to answer the call for some comfort food.

I got back to the poker room to find that Bodie had busted and bought back into the 1/2 game. At this point, I was yawning pretty good. OhPrincess2 woke Mom and Dad up at 6am to tell us that she couldn't find the remote for the TV downstairs. I wasn't aware the television even worked at this time, but such is life for Mom and Dad. Could I really rebuy? I was +21 on the first session. -55 on the tournament. Was I satisfied with -34? Fine. Rebuy!

This next session was a lot different from the first. Bodie was on my left. My immediate left and these new players were splashing the chips around. Bodie was also up an amazing $200 since sitting down. How long was I gone?

I tried grinding it out for a while but fatigue was getting the better of me. Well, fatigue with a health dose of 93o. I blinded a way, raising only once on the button with AQo. That missed, as expected. The next hand I played was about 4 orbits later. UTG +1 raises to $6, 2 people called and I found JJ in the BB. What to do? I raised it to $17. I really wasn't sure I wanted to see a flop. The cash games are such a mystery to me. Everyone folded and I made $19 on the hand. One more steal a few hands later and I was +10 on this session and getting more tired. This session lasted about 2 hours as well.

Something I found very interesting about my cash game sessions: I never showed my hands down. Not once. I have no idea what the other guys had and no one at the table ever saw my cards. Is this common? How can I play 4 hours of poker and never show a hand?

So, the day ended up costing me money. 21-55+10=-24. Not bad. I'd really like to get better, but each live session really builds my confidence. I spent the day getting pretty much nothing for cards and still didn't end all that bad. Bodie tells reminds me of this all the time, really, we should never expect to get good cards. Most of the cards we are dealt suck. Deal with it and make the best of your situation. Heck, if you read this far, thanks for stopping by! I'm beat - Good night!

Oh!!! Congrats to Surflexus!!! Takes the $11 satellite and cashes is the Poker Stars Sunday Million! Well done sir! $460 makes for a nice ROI!


RaisingCayne said...

Sounds like a good time. Well, a good time for Iowa standards at least, but I digress.

I don't think you can really fault the villain that took you out of the tournament too much. In live tourneys where blinds climb fairly fast in relation to the number of hands played, TT is a pretty darn good holding to call off someone's 10xBB push. You only had 3900 in chips... it was only 2900 more for him to call, and he was holding a decent starting hand, with only four better holdings to fear. It's incredibly difficult to put someone with a 10xBB stack on a premium hand. I probably make that TT call at a live tourney ten times out of ten. (But then again, I'm a donkey, so I digress.)

Your $1-2NL experience doesn't seem out of the ordinary. My limited experiences seem to either consist of everyone limping, or everyone splashing, with not much "in between." And I too have been amazed by the amount of folding done on the river, after such willingness to toss money around is displayed earlier in the hand. (Gutshots are chased to no end, but villains are too embarrassed to show when/if they miss.)

OhCaptain said...

The more I think about the tournament, the more I agree with you. I hate getting bored and card dead in tournaments like this. I could have easily waited for a better spot. LB next and the a full table to sit through.

I definitely won't shy away from firing the 3rd bullet at one of these, especially when I think I've got a good read on someone. I'm still just surprised that I could play for 4 hours, winning pots and never showing my hand once.