Saturday I went to Player’s Casino in Ventura to toss some cards and chips around. Otherwise known as playing poker.
The goal was to get out of the house, have some fun, and see if I could manage to come up with a winning session, something that has been all too rare of late.
When I got there, the list for the 2/3 game was quite long, but within minutes of adding my name to it, they called a new game, and I was last person on it to get in.
The game was a little chaotic and wild to start out. As often happens with a new table at PC, a number of the players in this game were really waiting for a seat at a bigger game—either the PLO game or the 3/5 NL game. So they were a little more aggro than the average regular 2/3 player. The first couple of pots played out huge and there had been no limping. Three-betting preflop had been the rule, so when I looked down at Ace-King in early position before the first orbit had been completed, I momentarily considered limping, waiting for someone else to raise. But no, I did indeed raise, and waited to see how much the three-bet would be.
But my raise to $12 was only called—by two players—not raised. The flop was ugly. Queen-Jack-Jack. Well, I did have a gutshot to Broadway. I held my breath and put out $25. Only one player called. The turn was a deuce, no help. I checked, giving up on the hand. I was a bit surprised that the other guy checked behind. My play smelled of exactly what it was—c-bet. a missed flop and then giving up when he called. This player was one of the ones waiting for the 3/5 game, too. The river was a 3. I thought about it and decided to bet it. The guy’s check on the turn showed bigger weakness, in my eyes, than my turn check had. And I had a hard time believing the 3 helped him. I figured what the hell and counted out $35 and bet it. He folded quite quickly. Cool.
Not long after I had Ace-Queen and opened to $13 (meant to put out $12 and grabbed an extra dollar chip by mistake). Again, two callers. This time the flop was a little more boring, just Jack high. I tried a $25 c-bet and won my second pot of the day.
After about 20 minutes, they opened a new 3/5 game and all hell broke loose. Three players from our table left to join the bigger game and everybody at my table left decided to change seats. For about five minutes, it was like a Chinese fire drill as everyone claimed new seats, and a couple of players who came in new played a hand or two and then moved to another game as well. Luckily, the list for our game was long and they didn’t have any trouble filling up our table.
I was happy to see the guy on my immediate left take off. For one thing, he straddled my big blind every time. Also, he was annoying. He liked to discuss the hands afterward—recreate them—in great detail. All while the next hand was going on. I was trying to follow the current hand and he was talking about who raised on the turn on the previous hand. I really don’t like playing next to a guy who thinks he’s Norman Chad.
One of the seats was taken by a middle-aged woman. Perhaps middle-aged is a tad generous. She sure didn’t look like a poker player. But if we thought she was going to be some timid nit, we were in for a rude awakening. She played pretty crazy. Her first few raises (of many) were huge--$25, $20. Eventually she made smaller raises, and limped a decent amount of the time. But folding preflop was not anything she liked to do except on rare occasions. A lot of times she took pots with aggressive play, but when we were able to see her hand we some odd cards. Her stack fluctuated quite a bit.
One time when she had fallen below $100, she open shoved. The fellow on her left had commented to a few of us on her play when she was away from the table earlier. None of us could really figure her out. Anyway, that guy raised to $200. That got everyone to fold, which was his plan. He showed his hand—pocket Jacks. She showed her hand—Queen-3 offsuit (she wasn’t a lot below $100 so it was a totally horrific play on her part). Of course, she caught a Queen on the turn and took the pot.
This lady was responsible for one of the more unusual things I’d seen in a poker room. By the time this happened, she had gotten to the point where she was limping a bit more frequently than she was raising. There was one limper and then she put out three yellow chips (in this casino, as in the Bike, the $5 chips are yellow, the $1 chips are blue). She went oops and somehow indicated that she hadn’t meant to do that. The dealer said, “You meant to just call?” She said she grabbed the yellow chips by mistake, she thought they were the blue ones. The dealer said, to everyone, “Is it ok with everyone if she takes it back and just calls?” I didn’t think that was allowed, at least not as it occurred there. Has anyone ever seen a player raise and then be allowed to take it back? Or allow a vote of the players to decide if a bet is a bet? But no one objected and she limped instead. Someone else raised, the hand went to showdown and on the river, she went all-in. The only player left was the same guy on her left. He tanked and folded and said, “Well, you’ve got to show your hand….we gave you that break.” But she acted like she didn’t hear him and sent the cards back to the dealer face down. The guy, a friendly, jocular fellow, said, “OK, next time, we’re not giving you any breaks.”
Meanwhile, I had fallen into my recent pattern of being incredibly card dead. I barely played another hand for a long time. I realized at one point that I hadn’t seen a single pocket pair the entire time I was there. Not a big pair, not a little pair, and nothing in between. Nada. I had maybe seen one medium suited connector and Ace-Queen once or twice that didn’t go anywhere. I actually looked at my watch to see how long I’d been there. It was about an hour and 45 minutes. Seems like a long time to go without a pair.
Just a few minutes after I had done that calculation, I looked down and saw a pocket pair, finally. And wouldn’t you know, it was a couple of Aces. Worth waiting for—I hoped. A couple of people limped in front of me so I made it $18. Only one player called—the guy I mentioned who was on the lady’s left. He had been one of the limpers. The flop was totally innocuous and he checked. I started to grab some chips and before I could count them, he folded. But then he turned over his cards—two Jacks. “I assume these are no good?” I was a bit surprised, why had he originally limped in with Jacks? Note: This hand occurred before the hand when he had raised the lady’s all-in to $200 with Jacks. Still this guy had been reasonable aggressive, and had put in more than his share of preflop raises. I couldn’t believe Jacks weren’t in his preflop raising range.
So I actually said to him, “Surprised you didn’t raise with those.” He misunderstood what I meant and said, “No….I wasn’t going to re-pop you with Jacks.” I got that—it was the first time I’d raised in at least an hour. I said, “No I mean you limped in with pocket Jacks, I wouldn’t have expected that.” He just shrugged, said, “Yeah, I limped.” Ok, I can’t blame him for not giving away his strategy, I wouldn’t have either.
That didn’t exactly open of the floodgates for me, card-wise. I did get Ace-King again, and won a two way pot with a raise and a c-bet.
Then I just checked with King-Queen offsuit in the big blind. I bet $5 on a King-high flop and got a caller. I bet $15 on a blank turn and got a call. The river put a third heart out there and I checked. Instead of checking behind me, the other player just mucked his cards. Strange. That annoyed the same guy who had limped with Jacks earlier. He said, “Why didn’t you check, I wanted to see his hand?” He meant my hand. Somehow, this guy had gotten particularly interested in how I was playing.
In the big blind I had 7-3 of hearts and there was no raise. It was just three of us. The flop was Queen-5-4, one heart (the 5). I checked and the next guy bet $10. The other guy folded and I decided to see one more card, so I called. I was kind of hoping for the 6 of hearts but I wasn’t too sorry to see the 6 of spades instead. From his play all day, I expected this guy to bet, so I checked. He didn’t disappoint and put out $20. Of course I knew that 8-7 beat me, but I dismissed the possibility. I couldn’t see him playing that the way he did. I was pretty sure he had a Queen and not really a strong one. I thought about betting smaller, but decided my check-raise would be to $60. He took some time to call, but did.
The turn was a 9, no flush possible, and still 8-7 was the nuts. I went over it in my mind again, and still was convinced he didn’t have the nuts. I put out $100, which I suppose was too much (but the pot was around $140). He tanked for a long, long time. He took a stack of $100, put it close to the betting line, but not over. And finally, he folded.
Before I relinquished my hand, the guy who had limped with Jacks spoke up. “I’ll give you seven bucks if you show me anything other than 7-8.” I laughed. Now by this time, I was almost ready to call it a day. So I figured what the hell and flipped my cards over. The guy said, “Well….almost the same thing.” But sure enough, the tossed me seven $1 chips. I laughed. But I actually didn’t feel right about taking them….even though he had committed to it and I had taken him up on it. After all, “verbal is binding.” Still, it felt wrong. I said, “I can’t take this.” and tried to give them back to him. He said, “Well, here, at least I’ll post your small blind for you.” So he put two of them back for my small blind.
My initial $300 stack had grown past $350 despite being so card dead. And I decided that this was going to be my last or second to last orbit. And I still hadn’t gotten a second pocket pair yet.
I got nothing until, in early position I got my second pocket pair of the day. Two black Aces. Well, I guess if you’re going to only get pockets twice in a session, that’s the pair to get, right?
I opened the pot to $15. And promptly got three callers, including the guy so fascinated with my play. He was the big blind. I didn’t really want to play my Aces against three other players, surely someone would hit something.
Well, someone did. Me. The flop was Ace-6-3, two diamonds. The big blind checked and I had to decide how to play it.
Here’s where I’d like your input. I’m certainly not checking there, not with the diamonds out there. For that matter, any of the players in the hand could have called my raise with 5-4, especially if it was suited. If it was two or three-handed, I would probably go with a 2/3’s or 3/4’s pot size bet.
But three others in the hand gave me pause. I wasn’t about to do anything crazy like shove to make sure no flush draw called me. I’ve seen my opponents do that many, many times. But I sure as hell didn’t want to make it easy for anyone to call, or for more than one player to call. I tanked for a bit and decided that, if I was going to lose with a set of Aces, I was damn sure going to give them bad odds to hit it. I went with $60—a pot sized bet. Well, I guess a little bit more than pot-sized, when you take out the rake.
The first guy mucked instantly. But the next guy went into the tank. He was a youngish Asian guy, but he had not played anything like the kind of “Crazian” you see in Vegas. He was actually a pretty tight player. After a few minutes, when it really looked like he was going to call….he mucked. My buddy, the big blind, folded immediately.
Now I was just a hand or two from leaving, so again, out of character for me, I showed my hand. That got a few oohs and ahhs. The Asian didn’t say what he had but said he assumed I had Ace-King, Ace-Queen and thought that he could maybe steal the pot on the turn if the right card came up.
But I ask you, what was the right bet to make there? I have to say, if anyone who had cards had a decent flush draw, I don’t think my $60 bet would have gotten them to fold. I just wanted them to be wrong for hitting it. Let me know what the right bet was.
And a few hands later I racked up and cashed out. It was a pretty fun table and I won some money. My $110 profit wasn’t a lot, but it was a welcome change from the way I’ve been running lately, and I was glad to leave with more money than I came in with.