Sunday, December 11, 2016

Back in Action

Those of you who follow me on Twitter have already figured out the big news. 

I saw my cardiologist on Thursday.  He cleared me to pretty much return to normal activity.  The only restriction left is, I can’t lift anything more than 20 pounds (it was five pounds max up until then, which is really restrictive).  But I can drive, and I can travel.

I decided to run a few tests to see how I would handle increasing my activity level.  On Friday, I took a little shopping trip—first time I’d driven a car in 7 weeks.  I went to Walmart (or, if you prefer, Walmarts).  And even though I didn’t really need all that much, I somehow managed to make $300 disappear.

Saturday—which was exactly 7 weeks to the day after I had the bypass surgery—was much bigger.  I needed to make a long overdue appointment in West L.A., so I did.  That got me up really early Saturday morning.  And I was dying to play some poker again.  Since my morning trip took me a lot closer to the Bike and a lot farther away from Ventura, it only made sense to head out to the Bike after my appointment, even though I would have preferred playing in Ventura.

In addition to just wanting to play, I wanted to see how my body would hold up after a fairly long drive and what I hoped to be a fairly long poker session.  After all, if my body couldn’t handle a trip to the Bike, it wouldn’t be able to deal with a trip to Vegas now, could it?

When I got to the Bike late Saturday morning, I found out it’s not just Vegas that is cutting back on, well, everything.  No, they didn’t charge me to park.  But I did learn their rewards program has been changed, and they no longer offer cash back for the reward points you earn.  You must use those points for food, hotel reservations, etc.  Just a few months ago they had changed the program so you could accumulate those points over an indefinite period of time and get cash back once you hit $25.  I never got to take advantage of that.  Now my points are only good for food.  I was also informed that the menu options for the table-side dining have been greatly reduced. It’s like Vegas and L.A. are competing in a race to the bottom.

Anyway, on Twitter, I posted this pic with the caption, “Back in Action.”  This is just my starting stack, it was taken before I played a hand.

However, I think my readers will probably appreciate this pic more, a totally appropriate graphic for a post about the Bicycle Casino.

There were two 2/3 games going when I got there, and I didn’t have to wait long for a seat at one of them.  A few of the players looked vaguely familiar, but there was one guy that I was sure I’d played with before, a fairly young bald headed dude.  My only memory of him was that he wasn’t a very good player.

In an early hand I wasn’t involved in, my suspicions about him were confirmed, or at least I thought so.  As I recall the action, under-the-gun +1 opened for $10 (a small raise for a 2/3 game).  The very next player made it $30, and the next player after that cold called the $30 without a moment’s hesitation.  So it folded to this bald-headed guy, who made it $105.

It folded back to the guy who made it $10, who tanked for a long time.  Both he and the bald guy had around $200 or so when the hand started.  I couldn’t figure out the guy’s hesitation.  I understand you can open to $10 with a pretty wide range.  But now it was obvious if he was to continue he’d be playing for stacks, that would seem to be a very limited number of hands.  You either have one or you don’t.  But he took a long time to finally fold.

The guy who made it $30 then announced all-in.  He had everyone covered.  The guy who had cold-called the $30 folded almost instantly and then it was back to the bald guy who wasted little time in calling the all-in.  They didn’t show and after the board was dealt, the bald guy asked the other guy “How big is your pair?”  And he flipped over….pocket Queens.  They were not improved by the board.  The three-bettor showed two Aces, also unimproved by the board.

So my question is….do you four-bet pocket Queens?  I guess one argument is, well you would four-bet pocket Kings and Queens is only one rank less.  But honestly—are pocket Queens ever good there?  The guy who raised to $10 and the guy who made it $30 had shown no maniacal tendencies to this point.  The guy who cold-called the $30 was the most aggressive of the three but still had never shown anything too crazy.  It just seems to me the guy had to know his Queens were, at the very best, the second best hand there.  But you tell me.  Maybe my time away from the felt has made me even nittier than ever.

I guess my session could best be summed up by three hands that played out in succession about an hour and a half into it.  First, I had pocket 8’s and a guy in front of me made it $22.  I called and four of us saw a flop that totally missed me.  I folded to a flop bet.

Very next hand, after a couple of limpers, a guy made it $23.  I had pocket deuces.  Assessing the people who still had cards (including the limpers), I was fairly certain that if I called from the button, at least one or two others would call as well, so I thought it worth a call.  I was right, five of us saw the flop.  It came 9-7-2 rainbow.  To my disappointment, it checked to me.  I think if the preflop raiser had bet, I probably would have just called with that flop.  But seeing as how I was the last chance to get any money in the pot on the flop, I felt I had to bet.  I put out $50.  A few guys tanked, but no one called.  Maybe I should have bet even less?  As it was, I bet less than half the pot.

Next hand, I looked down at two Aces.  So that was my third straight hand with a pocket pair.  I guess that may have happened to me before, but I can’t recall it.  There were a couple of limpers so I made it $20.  The bald guy called but no one else did (which was surprising).  The flop was King-Queen-x, two clubs.  I did have the Ace of clubs.  Bald guy was the small blind and he checked, I bet $30 and he check-raised to $60.  Hmmm.  I thought he could easily be doing that with just a King (or even a Queen).  I called.  The turn was a third club, and this time he led out with a shove—it looked like $80, which I had covered.  I honestly thought there was a reasonable chance my Aces were beating his top pair, and if not, I had the redraw to the nut flush. I called.

The river was a spade, and he showed me King-crap of clubs.  The rag was really low, 7 or under. And that’s all it too crack my Aces.  He called my $20 from out of position with King-rag of clubs.  Tell me again why I missed playing this game?

A couple of orbits later, he made it clear just how much he loved those suited cards.  He limped in under-the-gun and it folded to the button who made it $27.  This guy was probably the best player at the table and hadn’t come close to making a big preflop raise like that before.  It folded to the bald guy, who tanked for a bit and then folded, face up, saying, “I have a good hand, but it’s not that good.”  The hand he folded?  Why Jack-7 of hearts, of course.

What?  That’s not a good hand, you say?  Come on, with just a little bit of luck, you could flop a straight flush with it.

Sad to say, my session was pretty bad.  I wasn’t exactly card dead.  I was getting cards good enough to play, good enough to call a preflop raise with, but then would completely whiff on the flop.  On the rare times I’d be able to raise first (once with Ace-King, then with pocket 10’s), I’d get multiple callers and have to fold on the flop.

There were no disaster hands, just a steady drip, drip downward.   As such, I never did a full second buy-in, I just added $100 every so often when my stack got too depleted. I probably would have cashed out at some point, but I really wanted to test myself to see how I’d hold up if I played as long as I could.  For most of the session, I wasn’t even remotely tired, even though I had gotten up real early.  In fact, it wasn’t until my last two orbits that I got fatigued at all, and I attributed that to lack of sleep and not to my body being in recovery status.

After over three hours, I had taken out all the money I was willing to play with, and my stack was still short.  I made it $20 with Ace-King of spades and got two callers.  There was just one spade on the flop, but I made a $30 c-bet to try to take it down.  But both called.  There was no further betting action and they both had flopped a pair of 7’s.  My Ace-high no good.

Next hand, I made it $15 with Ace-Queen of spades.  Again, two callers.  This time there were three low cards on the flop, two of them were spades.  I think I started the hand with $50-$60 or so.  I just shoved.  Both called.  They checked the turn, a blank.  Still looking for that spade, I saw instead a red Ace on the river.  I was sure it was not good enough. They both checked the river. But one of them showed a low pair (with the board) and the other had a straight draw that missed.  My Ace was actually good.

That kept me in the game for another 45-minutes.  But then, as I said, I started noticing the fatigue.  When I started yawning every minute or so, I knew I had pushed myself as far as I could.  I had some chips left and was able to cash out, but still a fairly substantial loss.  But at least I passed my own personal endurance test by playing nearly 4-1/2 hours on my second day back after being taken off restricted activity.  I’ll settle for that.

= = = = = = =

Side note: I don’t normally give special attention to blogs that already appear on my blog roll (to your right), but I want to make an exception in this case.   Blogger KKing David has an important story posted on his blog about a terrible incident he recently witnessed in a brick and mortar poker room recently.  I encourage you to check it out here.


  1. Glad you are back on the felt and well on your way to full recovery. Hope the ticker tune up has you ready for more hooker encounters when you make a trek back to Vegas? (Verbal encounters only, of course).

    GL sir,
    Big L

    1. Thanks, Big L.

      Maybe I should show the girls my scar and see if they'll give me a discount?

    2. In that case, I'll definitely be a chick magnet!!

  2. Great to hear ur progressing towards getting back to normal. I have a king-rag suited play that I try to limp in and hope the ace of my suit hits the flop and that I am at least four to the flush on the flop. Then somebody needs to have paired that ace and we go to war...

    1. Thanks, Lester.

      Very specific play. Sounds like you'd get to run it once every dozen sessions or so. :)

    2. In some cases if there is a preflop raise after several limpers try to sneak in cheaply I call the raise if I close out the action. That happens more often than not.

  3. Great post Rob!


  4. Glad to see that you are out and about. The story telling is as great as usual.

  5. Rob, glad you are back at the tables. And many thanks for the shout-out.

    --KKing David