Monday, September 1, 2008

The $456 T-Shirt, Part 3

A brief review - I'm at the Mountaineer Casino and Racetrack poker room - the trip is less than half over, but my money is all gone. My backup plan was to take out a bit more cash and switch to $2-$4 limit hold'em.

I went to the bank of ATMs at the poker room and took out $200 - my final $200 to be blown on poker, I decided to myself as I was pulling it out of the machine. I then exchanged $140 of that money for chips and was immediately seated at a $2-$4 limit table ("the kids table", I joked to Tony).

The pace of limit poker is of course much different. Aggression doesn't work in limit poker because you can't push people off of hands with big bets - so you have to find other ways to make money. The game doesn't attract the aggressive jerks and bullies that no-limit can feature (not that all aggressive players are jerks, not at all - being an aggressive player is pretty much a requirement to being a successful no-limit player, and there are plenty of nice ones out there). Anyway, since the aggro-types don't play limit, the overall mood of the table is much friendlier. No guys sitting in sunglasses and iPods - no idle threats of "watch out now" when you come in for a raise, none of the testosterone-fueled BS. It plays more like a semi-friendly home game. This dynamic had the effect of levelling out my mood right away and getting rid of the stress of the past morning and evening. It was good to just sit down and play cards for a few hours.

Limit poker is usually also the game that attracts the casual, non-serious players that don't want to risk a ton of money playing cards - they just want to have a good time for a few hours. And, God Bless'em - I had 2 such people at my table. A couple, a (presumably) married young man and women sat on opposite ends of the table to play some poker. Well, sort of. They got up to smoke and to call home to check the kids more than once per hour, so they weren't always at the table - but their presence when they were there allowed me to make some money for awhile.

It was obvious that they didn't know what the hell was going on. Neither one understood the button and the blinds. Neither one understood how much they could bet, and both needed the dealer the help them out on just about every hand they were in. And thank goodness they were in almost every hand. Mr. Newbie also liked to raise the pot any time he hit a pair. Top pair, bottom pair, middle - didn't matter - he had a pair and he was raising it up. I took three or 4 pots from him having top pair, or the same pair with a better kicker. He almost looked like he didn't understand the kicker concept as the dealer pushed the chips my way, but was too embarrased to ask for clarification.

The mommy of the couple took back some of the money I won off the daddy through blind luck. Once I got a free play in the big blind with J5 - a 5 came on the flop and then again on the turn - so I bet my trips hard with mommy in the pot. She called all the way down as I expected, but then turned over A5. Oops! She also hit two pair against my top pair and dragged another pot. Later, in a hand I wasn't involved in, she turned over a flush against her opponent's flopped set, and asked if she had won or not because she didn't know which hand was better. Thank Goodness for the bad players!

Disclaimer: I'm fairly sure that if any of my opponents at the no-limit tables are bloggers, they are saying the same thing about me.

After the couple left, I was able to build a bit more of my stack with some strong hands. My monster hand of the weekend was a KK that I raised up and got two callers. The flop came KK6, giving me flopped quads. Why couldn't that have come when I was playing no-limit!?! I checked the flop but then bet the turn and river and both villains stayed with me, thankfully, giving me a decent pot.

Soon after, I played 9T of spades and the board came 782 with 2 spades. Someone lead into me with a pair (presumably), and I made my favorite move - raising a good draw in position. He called. The turn didn't help me, but the villain checked to my raise and I had successfully bought myself the free card. The river came a 6, giving me my straight. The villain checks, I bet my $4, and he calls with his top pair.

The hand immediately after, I got to limp into a multiway pot with Ace-rag suited and hit the flush on the river, and was able to extract some more money against another bad player who didn't see the flush on the board.

This brought me to about 6pm. I had about $200 in my stack, and this was my high-water mark for the day, sadly. What followed was a miserable run of bad cards and bad boards for my playable hands. Example - I raise it up with TT, get 2 callers, and the flop comes J K 2. I bet the cheap $2 flop, but when they both call, there's no sense throwing good money after bad.

By this point of the day I had hit the wall based on my lack of sleep the night before, and of course my play deteriorated. I started following the chain of limpers that often come from the passive limit game with crap hands like 23s and 46, often without position, knowing that the chances of a preflop raise were small enough that I would get to see the flop cheaply. While I did successfully see a lot of cheap flops, I was playing way to many hands for this to be profitable, and I wasn't hitting any big hands, so my stack dwindled down and down as the night continued. I should have probably got up from the table and either called it a night or moved to a different table, but these things didn't occur to me at the time. I burned through my $140, bought in for $40 more, and was able to hold onto this until 1:30 or so when Tony finally decided he was done for the day as well. We went back to the hotel and I fell asleep within 5 minutes.

Part 4 coming soon, featuring controversy, another brush with KK, and a wrapup.

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