Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Queens of Ventura

My most recent session at Player's Casino in Ventura was short and successful.  Timing is everything in life and in poker and my timing was excellent on this day.

I arrived before 1PM and had to wait for a seat in the 2/3 game to open up.  Just as my name reached  #1 on the waiting list, they called a new game.  My preferred seat was already taken so I had to settle for seat 7 from where it's a little hard for me to see everything, but it worked out just fine.  I bought in for $300 as usual.

I didn't recognize anyone at the table except for Pete Peters. Well, it wasn't really him, just someone who looked (to me, anyway) a lot like him—or actually an older version of PPP, hair a little grayer.  He looked enough like him that I surreptitiously took a pic of him and sent it to PPP for confirmation.  But he failed to see the resemblance.  I could post the pic here but I don't want to get in trouble. Besides, the dude was showing zero cleavage so why would I post a pic like that?

Anyway, even though I couldn't recall seeing any of the other players before, it was obvious from the fact that a lot of them knew each other and the dealers knew their names that there were a lot of regulars at the table.  I've been playing in this room fairly regularly for a few years now, and it always surprises me that there are so many regs I've never seen before—it is, after all, a small room.  But these new-to-me regs keep coming out of the woodwork.

The first twenty-minutes or so of the game I played exactly zero hands and was the very definition of "card-dead."  Finally I got Ace-Queen off in the hijack seat.  It folded to me so I made it $12 and was called by the button and one of the blinds.  The flop was low and I tried a c-bet of $20.  But the button called.  There were two more blanks (the river put a pair of 4's out there) and I checked and he checked behind.  He showed Ace-King to out-kick me.

A good while later I had pocket Aces.  There were a number of limps so I made it $20 and got one taker.  The flop was King-high and I bet $30 and didn't get a call.

The seat on my immediate right opened up and we could hear them calling "Alan" to the 2/3 game.  Of course, Alan wasn't the name them called, they called him by his real name, presumably.  But I need a name for him and I'm using "Alan" because, among other reasons, I've never use Alan as a pseudonym before, which is surprising since it is such a common name.  Anyway, one or two of the players in the game reacted to the likelihood of Alan joining our table. I don't remember the exact words but it was something like, "This game is about to change," and it was clear they meant it was going to get wilder.  I should point out that Alan's real name is not a particularly common name so it was easy for the players to assume the Alan that was coming to the table was very likely to be the Alan that was going to make the game a little crazy.  So I was glad that Alan would be sitting on my immediate right and not my left.

Alan said hello to the players who recognized his name and did indeed immediately change the entire dynamic of the table.  He proceeded to play extremely aggressively, shove quite a bit, raise and three-bet big—and bleed chips.  He was stuck like $500-$600 before you knew it.   This didn't affect me too much because I was still card-dead and folding one garbage hand after another.  Before Alan showed up, I was able to play a few speculative hands and was down about $80, I guess.  But I never got anything close to playable once Alan sat down and made it expensive to see a flop.

I guess I should mention that sometime after this big hand I'm about to get to, Alan won a few pots, built up his stack and commented that once he was back to even he was going to play "normal"—or at least differently than he was playing.  In other words, he was playing crazy in order to become unstuck.  Gee, do we know anyone else who plays like that?

Anyway, finally, under-the-gun, I got a hand to play.  It was pocket Queens.  Only my second pocket pair of the day.  I opened to $15.  I had played so few hands I was half-expecting everyone (even Alan) to fold.  But the guy on my immediate left called, and then two more players called before it even got to Alan.  Yikes!  Then Alan announced "raise" and made it $60.

What to do?  If it was just heads up vs Alan, I would have had no problem getting it all in preflop with my Queens.  I was most likely ahead of him.  But the three players who called my $15?  That was scary.  I mean, they had all witnessed Alan's play and it was certainly possible—even probable?—that one of them was sitting on a really big hand and just waiting for Alan to raise so they could shove.  I figured that with three callers to my $15, there was a decent chance my Queens weren't the best hand.

I called and wondered if anyone was going to re-raise.  But no one did.  But everyone who called the $15 called the $60 except one guy who could only go all-in for $49.  So we were looking at a huge pot preflop.

The flop was low, 10-high, two clubs.  I did have the Queen of clubs, for what that was worth.  Alan checked, somewhat surprisingly so.  I checked too because I assumed it was likely that flop hit someone (a set, or two pair, or a club draw).  But no one bet.  The turn was a third club and I thought surely someone had two clubs in their hand.  But Alan checked, as did I—as did everyone (except for the guy who was all-in, he didn't have to check).  The river was another blank, and not a club. Not sure how happy I'd be with a Queen-high flush anyway. 

This time Alan did not check.  He bet $70.  That was certainly an odd bet. Very small for the size of the pot. Based on how he had played until this hand, I had to assume my Queens were beating him—or he would have bet more.  And sooner.  Unless the river card (a Jack, I think) was the one he was waiting for.  But then he would have bet more. 

But I was thinking about the players behind me and it seemed very possible that one of them had caught something good by now.  After all, they all had hands that were worth $60 preflop, right?

So I just called and waited to see what happened.  One by one, they folded—except for the guy who was all-in, of course.  Alan and I had showed for the side pot. He had pocket 9's...unimproved pocket 9's.  My unimproved Queens were better.  And the all-in guy just mucked without showing.

Wow.  It was like a $420 pot.  Won with pocket Queens—unimproved.  I'm not sure I liked the way I played it, but with so many players in, I dunno what  else I should have done.  Do you?

Alan congratulated me on the hand.  He wasn't upset, at least he wasn't upset with me.  He said "nice hand," "good hand," to me a few times, and at least once or twice it didn't even sound sarcastic.  He did wonder aloud if maybe he should have bet bigger—or shoved (he had me covered at this point)—or just saved his money and checked.  He even asked me if I would have called a shoved.  I just laughed and said, "I don't know."

I counted my chips and had in excess of $550.  Then I resumed my card-deadedness.  Meanwhile, the dynamic of the table changed again.  To some degree, Alan had been making good on his promise to play "normal."  But I should point out that his definition of normal is not what you or I would consider normal.  But then the player two to his right won some chips from him, and Alan took it personally.  The player who won those chips was, according to Alan, a doctor.  At least he was referring to him as a doctor, I can't actually say for a fact that he was doctor.  I never saw him take a stethoscope to anyone.  But Alan began playing back against the Doc and the Doc returned the favor.  Almost anytime Doc entered a pot, Alan would raise.  Doc might raise back but if not, would always call.  For awhile the action was so crazy I wondered if I should just sit back, watch the carnage and wait for Aces.

But I didn't really have to worry because I never got another decent starting hand. Not even close.  After a few orbits, I was the big blind with 9-6 offsuit.  Doc folded so Alan just completed from the small blind.  I checked behind.  I think it was 4 or 5 of us seeing the flop, which came Queen-8-7, two spades.  It checked around.  The river was the 5 of clubs, giving me the nut straight.  I led out for $10, got a call, then a lady who had just come to that table made it $20.  That got a call and Alan folded.  I actually recognized this woman as someone I'd played with there before, but couldn't really remember anything about how she played.  I made it $65, the person who called my $10 folded, she called, the other player folded.

The river was the Ace of spades, which I didn't much like.  Now there were three spades on the board.  I played it safe and checked, and she checked behind.  She had Jack-9 (the Jack was a spade).  Well, I didn't like the Ace of spades but it was a helluva lot better than a 10!

This Many Chips

When I finished stacking I was now sitting behind about $635.  And so after a few more orbits, again totally card-dead, I racked up and called it a day.  The guy on my left said something about just playing that one hand.  Guess he forgot about my straight.  Alan said, "Good hand with the Queens, well played."  I just said, "Yeah, the ladies were good to me today.  Usually they aren't—either in poker or in life."

But what was really good was being in the right place at the right time when a maniac came to the table.


  1. Great post Rob! I got goosebumps!


  2. the chicks w nice stacks of their own gave me goose bumps.

    GL sir

    1. I don't think it was exactly "goose bumps" but OK.

  3. u played them awful, u shouldve shoved them preflop. unlike me, u werent afraid of giving back a profit and being stuck alot.

  4. As they say Rob, timing is everything. Nicely done. I'm not sure how I'd have handled the queens, I think it is possible you run up on someone with AA or KK waiting for Alan to raise. Maybe you bet the flop but I can see not betting there.

    1. Thanks, Neo. I'm not using that hand a learning experience. No idea if I played it ok or terribly....but in this case, it worked out nicely!