Sunday, November 25, 2007

greg's Home Game

I had mostly bad cards, but I waited them out and won enough to stay happy. One hand was particularly pleasing because I slow played four 6's until Gregg bet to put me all in on the river.

"Do you have the flush" he asked.
"No" I answered in a voice that disguised how good my cards were.

And even before Gregg had finished matching my chips in the pot, he decided he had won and started to reach for the pot.

"You better continue to match that pile," I warned. "You aren't taking any of this pot." And I flipped over the quads.

I had another nice hand with trip 6's and an ace against Bruce and bet that well enough so he went all in. He had two pair.

Peter lost a lot of close calls that cost him money. Bill got very annoyed that after he built a huge pile of chips over time with good play, he got caught by Gregg with so many lucky river draws.

As much fun as this game can be, it can also be very frustrating.

Frustrations included managing chips and the issue of banking this NL game. It is much different from a limit game. There is lots to do and think about and plenty that can be confused. Each hand is a challenge to monitor.

In limit any player can cash in chips or buy chips and it has no effect on the game. Only the banker needs to worry about selling and buying correctly, so as not to be stuck at the end.
In No Limit the size of a player's chip pile dramatically changes the nature of the game, so it is important that chip piles are clear and not confused.

Also in limit, the stakes stay the same throughout the afternoon. In NL, as the game progresses, money builds into some huge possible pots. So any errors make a huge difference.

One advantage Foxwoods and Vegas have over home games is that there is a fellow paid to pay attention to all the details and the players can relax and just pay attention to the cards, tells, betting patterns, etc. So while the competition may be tougher ( although I think Gregg is as hard a player to beat as anyone I ever played poker with) watching the game for every detail is unnecessary.

A lot of the players I read on line are mad about the coming tables where computers take over the job of the dealers, but I think it will reduce the need to monitor for error there too. On those new automated tables you can see the pot size and it is impossible to bet out of turn or check by mistake. Chips can't slip to the floor. Hands cannot be misread. Chips do not need to be collected in the middle, and side pots do not need to be humanly computed.

There are currently 12 tables like that at Mohegan Sun, and they are watching how those games are received while they build their new poker room. However, unlike the 5% rake tables I played on at Four Winds Michigan, the rake was still 10% at Mohegan Sun. You only saved the dealer tip.

Also Gregg's new chips did not work as well as we hoped. They seemed especially slippery. As play wore on I could see them wearing a bit, so perhaps with more play, they will be more manageable. Still, I felt a bit bad to have picked chips that perhaps weren't as practical as they might have been.

In the end Gregg won more than I did and that puts him ahead in our little side competition and leaves him as the reigning Poker King as I go off to Vegas and Florida

Monday, November 19, 2007

Last Foxwoods Poker Trip


Yesterday (nov 18) I used my free voucher from Foxwoods that I bought in August. It was good to get it in just before expiration. So the trip was free, and the buffet was free, and the keno bets were free and they paid $10.
With Vegas coming and then Florida, it will be March before I get up to Foxwoods again.

Even without poker I was ahead.

I decided to play just 2-4 for the day and not risk losing too much just before Vegas.

Once again I started a new game. I usually like to do that so that all players learn each other at the same time, but this is twice that I got seated at a table of excellent players. Not one hesitant new guy and nothing near a fish.
So I changed tables again when a seat became available. The second table was a much better choice with average players and a few calling stations. Also I was lucky to be seated with two old rocks to my right, both players I recognize from other days, old grumpy guys who play there every day. I never paid them a chip.

For two hours I just stayed even picking up a few little pots. Then I started to get hands. Unlike the 4-8 where I would have to now play with a rock hard table imagine, most of these players did not care that I had played few hands. One fellow at the other table did say something to the woman next to him when I raised. So I pegged him as one willing to fold to my aggression. The rest were very hard to move.

So one poorly played hand was a blind stealing raise on a pair of 3's. It influenced no one. And this was nice because the set came on the flop and I checked, the table fish bet and I called to keep more players in. On the turn with just three of us left, I checked, let the fish bet, raised, and then I bet the river and was called by the fish for a good pot thanks to my raise.

I won another pot with pocket 3's when I raised on the river just to have the calling stations put in a lot more chips in case I flopped big.

But my best hand was 5-6 clubs. I got silly and reraised to see a free card when
2-4 gave me an inside straight possibility. It was one of those gregg inspired bets. It did solidify that I was getting no respect even after long rock hard play becuase it pushed no one out nor did it let me check the turn. On the river the 3 came and I had the nut hand. One loosey goosey player kept reraising me on his A-5 straight and another groaned but kept calling with two pair. The Loosey-goosey was really excited with his hand and wanted to raise again when the betting capped. Had we been head to head I have a feeling that he would have gone the distance. Of course, the earlier raise must have been confusing too. I suspect he put me on high pocket pairs. That was my best pot of the day.

By 3:30 the real fish was gone and I had consumed a few Myers Rum so I decided it was time to hit the buffet. After fine meal of cod fish, chili, and prime rib I went back to find the table changed a bit. Better players were there. I raised on an A-8 of diamonds based on something I read in one of the poker books. It built the pot. The Flop was 8-8-A and Loosey Goosey saw me all the way to the river, lost, packed up his chips and left the table.

I had a run of A-high card so I was playing hand after hand and to those who had not played with me earlier, I looked like a loose player and got called. Some hands did well. My worst missed hand was to have A-K two pair beat with trip jacks. But over all I did well and had a good time bantering with a guy across the table.

So it was a fine afternoon. A cute girl to banter with at the table. A fairly easy game. And no one giving me much respect.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Foxwoods trip report


Son Peter and I took the $10 special to Foxwoods yesterday. It was a fine day to be away, rainy and cold. Everything looked dark and wet, and the inside windows of the bus steamed over and added more gloom.
But inside Pete and I had some good conversation. He brought a little electronic game to amuse himself, but when I wasn't napping I nagged and bantered until he had to give me some attention. How wonderful to be able to do a little payback after all those years of riding long distances when he was the impatient guy needed attention.

The bus is a great place for talk because neither of us is driving. For me it is really a break, because whether I have a steering wheel in my hand or not, I am generally driving anyway.

Pete and I managed to talk through a number of issues and before we landed at the site for our great poker battles. We had found a much more favorable solution to the old 92 Ford truck's future. It had been sitting at mechanic Mark's for weeks now and needed a $700 repair.
Peter decided to sell it off.
He really wants a gas efficient car in its place.
Mark is more like a member of the family than a mechanic. He has fixed all our cars for over thirty years. So Peter called him from the bus, and told him to hold off on the fixing. Mark will let it sit in the site with a sign on and explain to potential buyers what it needs.

We were already winners before we went into the casino.

Foxwoods was full of people coming on the bus specials. From Yankee Trails alone they had 12 buses when they usually have only one. Most of the people were old, but there was a mixture. Few of them find their way into the poker room, but they clog up the lines to the free keno bets and the free buffet and their slow shuffles and walkers require some video gaming skills to walk to the poker room.

Peter hit on the free keno for nothing and I just hit for $5. Good thing we don't use real money for those $20 bets.

I started on a 4-8 table. Very soon I knew that I was on a table with all good players, many of them regular, all of them efficient. I lost money. My ace-ten caught two tens on the flop and aces on the turn and river. I won very little money.

So I moved. I saw a seat open at a nearby table and asked for a move.

My second table was a fine mix of players. A few good, fast, mathematical folks , one Asian who played loose and aggressive, one hesitant woman. I felt comfortable. I knew if I caught cards, I'd get paid enough. But the cards did not come.

I held A-J on the button when the flop came K-10-X. The Asian talked about how he was raising, but he feared that no one would call. I figured it was all fluff. I reraised to see if he would check to me and I could get a couple free cards.
It was probably a silly play, but I felt it would not push out any of the players between us, and I was right.
But I had read my opponent wrong. I thought he was bluffing. He held two pair, K-10 and he capped the bet.
Now there was quite a bit of money in the pot. I still can't do the math of the pot odds, but my overview said it was worth seeing the river. He bet a rag on the turn and I called. At this point three of us were left.
I had two outs to win. An ace might also win if the fellow was trying to push me. I was wishing very hard for a queen. And she came.
He proved himself less a fool again than I thought and checked the river. I bet and he called. It was a very good pot.

A-J. The same hand that kicked son Keith out of that Chicago tournament. I guess it is my new lucky hand. In both cases I played poorly.
At one O'clock Pete and I stood in the buffet line for about 45 minutes and then ate fine portions of battered codfish and prime rib. He was ahead $8 and I was ahead $63 with the $5 I picked up at the keno. So we felt very good.

I had not had enough Myer's rum, so I decided I'd play 2-4 in the afternoon.
At Foxwoods you can ask to have 2 hours off for lunch and then be given second place on a list when you return. Peter and I both ended up at the same 2-4 table and within a few hands I took a seat right next to him.
I have taught what I know about limit poker to quite a few people, but Peter, who as a teenage had very little use for anything I said, is my best pupil.
Son Keith is my teacher. I don't listen very well.
Peter listens.
He comes with very little bankroll and he plays a fine conservative game. This was his second time in a casino game, and he walked away with $62 after playing all day.
In one hand he was doing the betting. On the river he held chips up to separate them and I saw the shaking tell. "He has good cards" I thought.
Then he patted my k
nee under the table as if to say, "Don't miss this, and he turned over 4 sixes. I saw him play very few hands poorly. Most beginners do not have the patience it takes for the dry hand spells. They have to play.
At our table people were playing all those hands that cost money, any high card with unsuited rag was very popular. At the same time there was no real pre flop raising. So it was easy poker.

In the morning Peter did win with an A-2. He let it check around after the flop and no on bet, so he bet the turn. Some lady stayed with him with a pair of tens and then got mad at hm for having an Ace and not betting. He was happy. But I suppose now he may have trouble getting off A-2. That could cost him in the long run.

I had a few good cards, a few nice rums, and some funny banter with an old fellow who had a fine leather Western hat that he had bought in a Mexican town near Cozumel. We talked Mexico a little. After his buddy started to call him Tex Ritter, we started to talk of old Western actors and trivia like what was the name of Hopalong Casidy's horse. These old guys knew all the details of ten years before I was watching television. They all guessed William Bendix for the first Life of Riley, but one fellow knew if was Jackie Gleason. Robin would have loved this conversation. It was a fine time; the conversation and the rum made me feel young.
I took a good pot or two on bad betting by my new poker buddies and just sat and watched and drank rum and stayed just about $40 ahead. It was a fine afternoon. I did not drink so much rum that I actually sang the theme to "Rawhide" or even "Happy Trails to You" when I left, but I did have a fine time singing those songs in my head. Peter is not drinking alcohol, and it would not have done him any good anyway because I don't even think he even knows the theme to Maverick. He is not opposed to ordering rum, so even the slow waitress did not mean any dry trails for this old cowboy.

Very little preflop raising. Some fellow came from a no limit and started to raise every other preflop. The players grumbled about him later, but none of them rerasied him. I got to tell Peter that, especially if the really good player between him and Mr. Raiser had folded, he should reraise if he held very good cards, squeeze the rest of the players, but not get wedded to cards if the flop let him down . My chance came when I was on the button with A-8 suited. I actually used to not raise much with A-X suited, but one of the books I have been reading advised it if it would put money in the pot.
It would not have been a good play had I expected Mr Raiser to come back over the top of me. But I had read this fellow right. I could see all the grumbling in the heads of my fellow players as they called another bet. Most called for one card, and then dropped when my ace came. Mr. Raiser knew what I had done and figured it was mostly bluff, so he called me (betting his big red NL chips and getting change). I the disgusted way he bet, I could read he was very weak. My A-8 two pair took a good pot that hand, and Mr Raiser never raised preplop again.

Peter played well to my left. I did not feel pressured to adjust my strategy as much as I do sometimes when I play with family or friends. He took me down in one hand and it was nice to lose to him. Most times we were not in the same hands.

Just before I left to head home, a woman came on my right who had never played Hold Em before. She was a stud player, so she knew poker, but she did not really get the feel of the game. That is how it is at Foxwoods. You can almost always trust there will be some weak players at the table and that the average player being too loose but passive.

When we left, I was ahead $104 and Peter was ahead $62.

The ride home was boring. I could not nap well, Peter was quieter and into his Gameboy, and the people behind me chattered away the whole trip. Some of it was entertaining, but after three hours it gets old. There are few movies on the $10 special trips. I suppose this is because the drivers are not the regulars.

Still it felt good to be clawing up the cliff of defeat for this worldwind week of poker.

When I was in Illinois last week, all the guys were excited about the football upset. Illinois was up against the odds playing Ohio and pulled out a very exciting victory. I know nothing about football, but coming back from $450 behind in this week of poker to just $12, with today's game to go, feels very similar to the way those Illinois players must have felt against Ohio. Only there was no fighting on the field, unless you count the banter between Greg and I.

Tomorrow I have a home game at Gregg's. Then things slow down until Vegas.
Happy Thanksgiving

Monday, November 12, 2007



Majestic Casino in Indiana is a decent place to play poker. There is no free alcohol, but the game I played this week was good.
I played with regulars, but they were still a bit loose. Also there were a few bad players and novices in the mix.
One Asian fellow that eveyone called Bubba (probably because he called everyone Bubba) started the night loose but reasonable and gradually got very drunk and very loose aggessive, betting and raising every hand.
Two other players hardly knew the rules.
The better players slowed down then and waited for Bubba the Raiser before acting. Once that happens, I usually like the game.
However, I was in a 3-6 game with a Kill.
I don't like the Kills!!
Usually they redistribute the wealth if I manage to hit a couple pots. And they make my blinds expensive. The beauty of a 3-6 game is the easily folded dollar small blind. With a kill, large binds see fewer free flops.

Son Keith and I had arrived at 3 PM.
The day before I had seen son Frank sworn in as an Illinois lawyer in a huge ceremony and met many of his lawyer friends at a fine lunch at Manny's deli, where thirty of us were treated by one of the other father's.

That morning I slept as late as I could, watched "Rounders" for inspiration on son Keith's wide screen, ate left over Chinese food for breakfast, and then took a until Keith got out of work midday. I was to appreciate the nap ; taking just a half hour break for a little chili and seafood salad on my comps, we left the casino at 4:30AM for the near two hour ride back.
14 and a half hours of straight poker.

The long overnight session was disappointing. At the depth of my defeat, I had bought in for $600 and $450 was gone. Still I knew it was not my playing. I had experienced a run of incredibly low cards. 2-3 offsuit came and came again. That is a good pattern in a lover, but deadly in low cards. Had I caught A-K as often instead of that promiscuous 2-3 SOB, I would have taken all the chips on the table.

I stayed disciplined.
Good cards let me down on the river.

I was losing in spite of there being a few people who would pay me were I ever to catch a hand.

I did hit one string of hands. Two in a row and on the kill (where I must post $6 and the game will now be 6-12), I was dealt pocket queens. My kill was in place of my small blind. I raised it. It unsettled some of the players who needed to call my raise or fold their $6. The loose ones who had called without very strong hands even went so far as to question the dealer as to my right to raise the kill pot $6. The flop came all disconnected rags, and by the river, everyone had folded.

I also remember two missed pots. One was a 6-12 pot and huge. I had K-9 of hearts, a pair of kings, a straight possibility, and after the turn a flush draw. After the turn one opponent bet his top two pair, aces and jacks, so that made that round $24 and half the table was calling. I needed one heart for the nut. I missed. Two pair took it.

In another Bubba the Raiser was doing his betting thing and I was calling. I caught a nice straight 9-K on the river and raised his initial bets. Often his bets were on nothing and just a hopeful bet into our weakness. If bubba had not been Asian and drunk, he could have names himself Gregg.

This time they were based on a flopped 10 to the A straight where he held K-J.
I raised my smaller straight.
He reraised.
I called and lost a nice one.

Otherwise the night was one of discipline. I sat and watched the game. I waited. I stayed calm. I knew that I could win with good cards. Even my rock status did not mean I was not called if I raised.
I could push a few players out with my pairs, but a bluff was impossible. Once I successfully bluffed one other rock when I had just a pair of deuces on the river. Only once.
Players were often pissed when I raised, but they did not all fold. When we left, I was down $320.


The next night we went to Mark's for a home game in downtown Chicago.

Mark is an old friend of Keith, and I had extended my stay in Chicago to play in this game. I was a bit nervous because my gambling bankroll has looked low for going into Vegas next month and after the Majestic debacle, it was now lower.

We started a 3 person cash game similar to what we played a Greg's. I lost $16.

More guys arrived and the tournament was set up. It was a $20 tournament with one rebuy. Before a tenth guy arrived, I had already lost most of my buy in and had bought in again for what was my one rebuy chance. A good bit of it had gone when I went all in on an Ace-Queen after both came on the flop. I was beat on the river to a guy who called me with K-J inside straight draw.

In order to let the new fellow in the game late, Mark decided that everyone would have the option of another rebuy, and although I was up chips again, I bought. So I was now in for $60.

And then things started to go my way. All these players were in their 30's, so I was the old guy. I had played tight. I hit a few pots and started to dominate the table. They started to tease that the "old guy has it on."

After not playing anything for a long while, I played a 5-7 of hearts in later position just for the hell of it. The flop came 5-5-7. There was some checking and I checked. Then there was a bet and I went all in. My one opponent hesitated, but he called with me and the river did not help him.

Later that trash play was to help me again. I had pocket kings and the flop was 3-4-6. A guy bet half his chips. I raised to put him all in. While he hesitated, he talked.

It was common in this game to talk the game a bit and hopefully get some information.

In his talk he mentioned that I had played that trash and I said, "yep, it was the 5-7 then too. Ya gotta raise those two cards up." And he folded what was most likely a straight draw.

Still I was not too optimistic. I have never beaten son Keith in a tournament. He generally wins. He had played no limit all night the night before and caught some poor beats. He had still only lost a little over a hundred in a game where people lost a thousand easily over the course of the play. Luckily, he was seated to my right.

I was strong in chips when he made a huge bet. I held A-J offsuit and I called. Rags dropped. Keith put in the rest of his chips. I called. He had tried to force out folks with K-Q, not expecting me to call with so few chips. Neither of us developed and my ace-high gave me a huge stack.

After that I just had to wait for players to eliminate themselves. I checked a pocket pair of kings when two 9's fell on the turn until it became kings full, and almost trapped a player with a healthy bet that would have moved him to go all in.

He suspected I had a higher pair than he had.

In the end I was left with the fellow who lost when I had the trip 5's on 5-7 and he was intimidated and low chipped. He also was the easiest at the table to read. When two aces flopped and nothing came on the turn, I went all in with my pocket tens and he called with very little, mostly to get it over with.

So I won my first tournament in a good long while. Had it been a straight $20 tournament I would not have won, but the rebuys gave me power.

A cash game afterward with Omaha High and Pineapple thrown in (the game now also included the newly sworn in lawyer son Frank) won me enough so that my losses for the entire trip were reduced to $116. Whew! I can live with that. Especially since I beat son Keith. He did not respect some of my play, but then as I say when raking in such pots in Vegas,
"When I can't play smart, I always try to play lucky."

Perhaps I can get my losses back tomorrow when I go to Foxwoods on the bus with son Peter or on Wednesday when we have a game at Greg's. At any rate I won't now get into the place where I lose $1000 in a week of poker just a few weeks before going to Vegas for a trip in which I am already feeling short on bankroll even if the trip itself will be basically free.
Free flight. Average room fee of $5.50. Lots of free food and free play.

For a long, long while the poker games were just not happening, and then in one week, I manage to play four times and all in different venues.
Life is just like the run of the cards.
Streaks happen.