As you know, I’m in the midst of documenting the rather disappointing results of my recent Vegas excursion. Poker wise, it was a total disaster. Actually, pretty much every which way it was a disaster. I caught a cold, had a few other minor physical ailments, became totally disenchanted with the city of Vegas itself, and honestly, was very happy to be returning home. That’s not my usual attitude when I depart from Vegas.
I drove home on a Thursday and gathered up all the strength I could muster to get some work done on Friday. But on the weekend, I knew I needed to just completely shut down and try to recover physically. I barely left the couch either Saturday or Sunday. All the medical issues could probably be considered minor individually, but hitting me all at once made it seem very, very major.
A visit to see two doctors Monday morning put me on the slow road to recovery for one of the conditions. I kind of disobeyed doctor’s orders to get back to work the rest of the week. And it was double time. I had to take a couple of evenings knocking out my next column for Ante Up. Wouldn’t you know it, that column was probably the most difficult and time-consuming I’ve ever written. You’ll see it in a few weeks, but it was a preview of most (but not all) of the summer tournament series that will be held in Vegas. Just a lot more work than my normal column (I’ll explain when I run it).
That was the last three evenings of that week, and then on Saturday, did I take some time for myself to aid my recovery (everything was still bothering me, to some degree)? No. I had to spend the entire day working on my taxes. Trust me, that wasn’t nearly as much fun as it sounds.
Now I should have taken Sunday to recover from everything (including doing my taxes) but did I? Nope. I wanted to get you, my dear readers, a fresh new blog post. So I spent Sunday with my nose to the grindstone whipping up the post you can find here.
By the time the following weekend rolled around (which was this past weekend), I was actually feeling reasonably well. And I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I had been cooped up at home too long, I needed to get out. My friends were all busy, so the best option was to head to the local poker emporium and see if I could remain card dead for the rest of my life. I definitely had some trepidation about getting back on the horse, but I knew I was going to do it eventually. So why not now?
Well the answer to that question was, “the weather.” A rather freakish early April storm had descended upon California and I had to decide if I felt like getting out and driving in the rain (especially having just barely gotten over my cold). But I decided I just had to get out, I would have gone nuts if I stayed in one more day.
The Google Maps program is a god-send. Using it, I avoided my usual route and a lot of traffic, and instead it gave me a relatively smooth sailing alternate route. I didn’t avoid the rain, but at least the back roads it directed me to weren’t flooded and I arrived at PC Ventura in almost the same amount of time as the normal route would have taken me without traffic.
My goal for this session was just to get my feet back under me. Sure, having a huge win would have been great, but that seemed too much to even try for. I was looking to recover, mentally, from the beating I took in Vegas. It wasn’t even so much as leaving with a profit as much as sitting at a table and seeing if I could get some good cards once in awhile. Of course, booking a win sure would have been nice. But if I could get some cards finally, and spend a few hours not looking at the four walls of my living room, that would be considered a success.
I knew I would be extremely gun-shy this session, but I was just hoping to find something to start rebuilding my confidence with. I suppose that sounds a little odd considering I don’t really blame bad play on my results in Vegas. As I keep saying, I basically went an entire week without getting cards. I didn’t know that I could have done much differently. But when you go that long without getting hands to play, it just wears on you, every bit as much as if you are playing bad. At least bad play is, in theory, fixable. Bad cards….well, that’s just a waiting game, right?
There were actually a couple of changes waiting for me at the PC. One, they had brand new poker chips. The dollar chips were still light blue, but the $5 dollar chips were no longer light green. No, they didn’t make them red. They were yellow. But you know, the $5 chips at the Bike are also yellow, so maybe that’s an L.A.-thing. The good news though, aside from the chips being all shiny and new and clean, is that you can now very easily tell them apart. From a distance, the blue and green ones were too similar looking.
The other change was that they no longer offer Diet Dr. Pepper. Disappointing, but that was always a unique perk at this place. Have to settle for Diet Coke there now, like pretty much everywhere else.
I was able to get seated in a 1/2 game right away. I had only been there for about three or four hands when I looked down at a couple of Aces. Aha, I thought, I’ve broken the spell. I raised, had one caller, and took it down with a c-bet on a Queen-high board. It actually occurred to me that I could quit right there and book a win, albeit a very, very small one. Still, booking a win would be a great help psychologically, right? I think I might have actually considered it if it wasn’t pouring rain outside. I’m kidding of course. I think.
There were big stacks at the table but the action didn’t seem particularly aggro and the raises weren’t especially large. Thus, I thought it might be good to try one thing that I don’t usually do. Back in Vegas, I had seen my buddy Don limp in late position or even call raises on the button with pretty questionable hands, like low, offsuit connectors. One time he stacked a guy with Aces (and also took my small stack, but then, I only had pocket Kings) by calling with something like 6-5 offsuit. Don’t quote me on that, I haven’t played back my tape. Anyway, he hit a straight I think and put the guy who had Aces on tilt (and won a big pot). We were talking about it and he’s trying things like that now, and is being encouraged to do so by his unofficial poker coach.
I guess that’s why, after a few limpers, I limped in from the button with 7-5 diamonds. In position, I suppose you could also consider raising, but unless you take it down there, you are playing a big pot with a pretty lousy hand. The idea is to try to hit something with a minimal investment. It’s easy to fold unless you flop a monster (or a monster draw). I hit something….I flopped both a straight and a flush draw. I called $5 and then $5 on the turn when I actually hit my flush on the turn. That’s the downside of playing this way….you’re kind of afraid of bigger flush when you do make the hand, that’s why I only called. A fourth diamond hit the river and no one bet, I was really afraid of the bigger flush. But the only other flush was a guy with the 6 of diamonds and I took the pot.
I limped in with Ace-8 of clubs. A guy shoved his last $15. A lady with a big stack called, so I took a shot and called. The flop was 4-3-3, one club. No one bet. The turn was a blank, still no bet. No bet on the river, an 8. Everyone had suited Aces. The 8 on the river gave me the only pair and I took the pot.
I called $6 from late position with King-Jack of spades. It was three-way. Two spades on the flop and I called $6, still three ways. Another spade on the turn, this time the preflop raiser checked, I bet $20 and only the preflop raiser called. Another spade hit the river. I checked behind, wary of the naked Ace of spades. But all he had was pocket Queens. I was up more than a few bucks and it felt good to actually be catching some cards and being up, even if it wasn’t a lot of money.
I limped in from late position with Queen-10 of spades, it was five-ways. Two spades on the flop, no one bet. I caught the flush on the turn and called $5, we were heads up. Yeah, I was worried about a bigger flush. She checked the blank river and I did as well. But she didn’t have a flush, she actually had turned a straight. I tried to be mad at myself for playing so wimpy, but I couldn’t really be upset; it was just so refreshing to be taking down pots, even if they weren’t exactly making me rich.
I limped in with Ace-2 of hearts from late position. At least five of us saw a flop of Jack-5-4. The two low cards were hearts, giving me not only the flush draw but a gutshot to the steel wheel. Perhaps in a different mental state, I would have played the draw more aggressively. But I just called the $15 bet made by the youngest guy at the table (was wearing a backwards baseball cap too). He checked a blank turn and so did I. The river was an Ace, so I called his $10 bet. But he had flopped a set of 5’s.
On the button I limped in with 5-4 offsuit. Then called $5 when one of the blinds raised—it was five way. The flop was 3-2-2. I called $6, still multi-way. A blank on the turn and I called another $6. The Ace of spades on the river gave me the wheel but also put three spades out there. I just called the $10 bet. She had just an Ace, and I took down the pot.
An orbit later, with the same dealer, I limped in with 5-4 off again. Five-way This time the flop came 3-3-2. I called $6 and it was just the two of us. This turn the turn gave me the wheel when an Ace hit. I called her $15 bet. Yeah, I was a bit afraid of a full house. We checked down a blank river. She just had an Ace. The dealer remembered the earlier hand where my 5-4 had also made a wheel and commented that 5-4 was good for me. I owe those pots to my buddy Don.
But yeah, you can see I’m not getting value for hitting these hands. The other thing you will note is that the betting at this table was pretty timid. I should have been taking down much bigger pots for the hands I was catching. I know that. But….I couldn’t be upset. After what I’d gone thru in Vegas, it was feeling real good to be taking down these pots, as I said. It was…well…kind of therapeutic.
Finally got the dreaded pocket Kings. Two players had limped in ahead of me, so I made it $11. No one called. Winning with pocket Kings? This was my lucky day!
I limped in with pocket 3’s and it was seven-ways. The flop had two hearts on it, one of which was a 3. A lady bet $5, another called and so I raised to $20. Too much? No one called.
I raised to $7 under-the-gun with Ace-King off. Only one call. The flop was Ace-high, I bet $12, he called. Blank on the turn, I checked, he bet $20, I called. Blank on the river, we both checked. He had Ace-King. Only the house made any money on that one.
I was now up over $90. And it felt good, real good. The rain had stopped for the moment and I was thinking of leaving. I really would have liked to somehow gotten that profit over $100 so I could book the double-up, but I knew I would have been rather upset if I ended up losing the profit chasing that. I decided I was on my last orbit. I was thisclose to booking that win.
Under the gun plus one (or maybe plus two), I looked down at pocket 9’s. This was my second or third to last hand, for sure. So I just limped in. Then a guy made it $10. Two players called in front of me (the blinds), as did I. The flop came 9-8-5, two hearts. It checked to me. I figured the flop probably didn’t hit anyone but had some draws out there. I couldn’t count on the preflop raiser making a c-bet so I bet $30. The preflop raiser announced all in for $53. Really? The two ladies both took their time before they folded. Of course I snap called. I really thought I was ahead. I figured he was trying to protect his overpair from the draws. Or maybe he had the flush draw himself. I couldn’t put him on 7-6, he had given no indication he was a player who would raise with a hand like that. We didn’t show.
Still, I sure wouldn’t have minded the board pairing. But it did not. There were no more hearts, just a black Queen, followed by a black Jack. Shit, he didn’t have a 10, did he? Nah, I was still absolutely convinced I had the best hand when I turned over cards. The dealer announced my set of 9’s.
The guy stared at the board for a few seconds….maybe more than a few. The delay convinced me even more that I was taking down a nice pot. And then he said, “I have a straight,” and showed 7-6 of diamonds. WTF? I was disappointed before I was pissed. I counted out the chips I owed him. At least he was short stacked and I still had a bit of profit left. But I sure as hell didn’t like the slow roll. What was that all about? He surely knew he had flopped the straight. And the dealer loudly and clearly called out my set of 9’s. I sure didn’t appreciate that, but I said nothing.
I played one more hand and then called it a day. I ended up $30 ahead. I tried to focus on finally being able to book a much need win—much need for my psyche. But I know I left money at the table and I was annoyed by the last hand. But that’s poker, right? You flop a set and someone makes a straight. At least I had a hand good enough to be coolered with.