Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Winning Day at Turning Stone

The ride to Turning Stone is just enough shorter than the one to Foxwoods to keep the comfort level high. I board at Albany (to board at Renns adds 45 minutes to the trip at each end) They had a movie each way that took up the entire time.

The bus was $21 (since I called at the last minute.) For that I got $25 "free play", but it can only be used now as slot play and it is really the casino staking the player and then taking the stake back from any winners. I played around and won nothing, but in the future I can see that it is only good to play games that would give a large enough win so that after winning I'd be willing to give the casino back the initial stake. Playing cheap grind out nickel games is a sure loser.

I played the keno and the pull tabs that had coupon promotionals. $8 bet. I won $6 on the keno.

With the promotion, the buffet cost $7 and was worth it. I enjoyed a Mexican blackbean and corn dish with nacho cheese on top and some fine large green beans. I also loved the lamb stew which was all lamb and no potatoes. The prime rib was great.

I drank whiskey mixed drinks all day using my flask and cheap whiskey. I asked for ginger ale with a lemon and a cherry and made a fine high ball, then used the left over ice for my on the rocks second drink. That works very well for me.

At the poker table, many of the players were chasing hands. I was one of a very few people who folded much preflop and no one seemed to remember that when I bet either. There was one good regular, and he roped some betters in with slow playing a full house. Luckily, I was too far behind to stay and folded on the turn bet. Other than that people just paid me when I had cards. I did not try to push anyone out nor did I worry about building pots with raises. Everyone stayed. So to win there I just needed to avoid losing. Every win paid me.

I won $79 in the morning and was never behind. I hit on my second hand and then went up or down. I quit when the game seemed to have attracted good players.

In the afternoon I was up and down. I had a very good streak of cards just before leaving and so I quit up $200. with my $2 loss at keno/pulltabs I was ahead $278 for the day, a well above average win.

Here are a few memorable hands:

I did very little bluffing, but after a long time folding hands I decided to play my K-Q as overcards on a J-x-x flop. A fellow in early position bet $2 and was called by two. I was acting last. I raised. My hand did not develop, but did not cost me any more money, and I won with K high.

I played 8-9 of spades by raising on the button. No spades came, but on the turn I hit two pair. People called me I suppose because they thought I must have one high pair. The two pair won. Putting me on high cards since I raised preflop meant my 8-9 was a real surprise.

My favorite hand was A-Q of hearts. I flopped the heart flush, slow played. On the turn I called a bet before me and the guy to my right with X-X small hearts raised. The guy to his right had K-9 of hearts and called as did others, one with trips. When It got to me, I reraised. The heart guys called me as did two other players. On the river it was just me and the other hearts calling. I had the nut hand. this was a very profitable hand my favorite of the day. It is the kind you dream about having.

For about thirty minutes at one point I got bored or tired or off focus and played looser than I should have played. I never got lucky in that loose play, so that cost me maybe $40. The rest of the day my game seemed to be one that won. The other players noticed my chips piling up, but they did not do much folding. It did not seem to stop them from hoping that they might catch. Once again I raised pocket pairs on the button. This confused guys. None of those pocket pair hit, so no one could see that pattern.

When I would raise and then check and then fold, they would get very confused, perhaps frustrated because they could not understand what I was doing. I simply wanted to get the other $18 for my two dollar bet so that if trips came, I'd have a good pot to play for. And I liked having my trips disquised. There is not much power in an after flop bet if it is just follwing a preflop raise as it is expected. The raiser is expected to keep face.

The players are a bit dull and very quiet. It is not Vegas. There is not instant party. A couple guys talked a bit and all were friendly enough, but mostly I just sipped my whiskey and played cards.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Greg's March 12

I played a terrible game today. I just wanted to bet. I was on tilt from the moment I started and it cost me plenty. At one point I was down $70. I quit up $39, but only because I chased a flush because I had the Ace. It was a bad bet because I knew that my opponent Scott had the flush by the way he bet. So that meant there were only 7 spades left in the deck. Odds 7/43. It was a 16% chance I would win. Since Scott threw most of the money in the deck after the turn made his flush, I would not get that much pot odds by calling his all in bet. I just got lucky.

In addition, I was not careful and flashed my cards to Ken who played next to me. I am not used to having anyone right next to me in these home games. I will have to watch at Turning Stone and Vegas to see I am not giving away information there too.

Peter played well. He also seemed to get cards.

Bruce actually left with money. I tried again to convince him that throwing away free draws by folding rather than checking is a big mistake, but there is no telling him anything. Today he even started throwing away his blind rather than seeing a free flop. But he loses most of his money by chasing any chance for a win right to the river in spite of strong bets by opponents. He just can't give up hope even on an inside straight draw.

Greg played very tight for Greg. I think he is getting the idea that bluffing 7 players is very hard. Someone is going to have something.
I called his all in bet when all I had was pocket Aces and there was a possible straight on the board. Both he and Bruce had the small straight. It was a stupid call on my part as I had little chance to win because with two people ahead of me betting or calling a Greg's 50 chip bet, someone most likely had the straight. I was just so sure that my 20 chip bet would push them out that I was stupid.

We had 8 players total, but only seven at any one time. It was crowded in Greg's kitchen that day, but we all managed to fit. I enjoyed having some Saranac and ppop corn.

Peter has provided quite a few players and boosted the game. I was worried it might bring in some players that we could not trust. But the players who came were fairly new to the game and made plenty of mistakes too. Of the three, only Ken walked with some profit after some lucky cards.

It will be two weeks before Greg hosts again. I am going to turning Stone on Tuesday. Soon my tow day game will be on. That should be fun.


I started great. Third hand I raised my pocket jacks, was reraised 2 guys to my right, capped to push out the fishers, was unsuccessful, and yet took down a huge pot when my jacks held up all by themselves. But after that things went sour. At one point I was down $40.
Still it was a great table. I got in when it opened. Some people did not know how to play the game at all and had not been told that rather than play each hand, they should fold 80% of the time or that their K-9 should not call on the river with the hope of winning with K high.
The fellow explained his call,
"I had to try."
Most were just loose. None were aggressive. It is the loose, aggressive players that kill me. Put me on a table where when I raise preflop, everyone calls and groans but no one gets mad and reraises, and then I am happy.
So I was up and down. I started raising on pocket pairs when I was on the button. I like unusual button raises as they set up in everyone's mind that I have high cards, so they call my bets on low cards. I raised a pair of sevens, was reraised by a player two seats to my right, so I capped, hoping that it would push out some people. They called the capped preflop bet and I flopped a set. I checked and called. On the turn came the fourth seven. I checked and raised my one opponent, then bet the river and he raised two more all in.
All agreed that my quads were very nice.
At the peak of the play I was up almost $150.
The poor players went broke and were replaced by good players so that for a while I was thinking of leaving and taking a walk, but then they left to play a tournament and poorer ones took their seats. The problem was that the table did not fill up completely. Finally, after I learned they had opened a new table when we had only five players, I quit, broke up the game, and was immediately given a seat at one of the other tables. Even the dealer was annoyed that they would start another new table when an existing table was not full.
But I did not do well. Players were experienced and better than calling stations, some raised, and I just did not get cards.
I remember two hands.
My 9-10 flopped 9-K straight and I bet and bet and no two others hung on. The river was an Ace, so I bet, and capped, and sure enough two other guys had stayed with tens that had been no good until the river.
So we split up all that money 3 ways.
My last hand I had A-X and with an inside straight draw and a fairly small pot, I decided I could force out my one, weak seeming opponent, so I bet but he called.
I caught the 4 for the wheel and was feeling lucky until he raised me and showed his 6-7. The four had made him a better inside straight. He had called my semi bluff on the turn with a small pot and one opponent when he had but an inside straight draw. Time to go home.
Final score --up $117. Not bad. Certainly it paid my expenses for the day and gave me a little profit to lose to Greg tomorrow at his home game.
Now when I leave a poker table to go home, I generally have one destination in mind. I should have gone the path through the computer that I knew best, but I decided that I could stop on my way out the door I always enter. Except that all the remodeling had me disoriented, and I did not have a GPS to find that door.
I got lost.
Passing three waterfalls and one fountain, twice, did not help my condition.
But finally I filled the last pot of the evening.
I was ready to exit and I just walked out the nearest door although that meant walking around a good bit of the casino outside.
The outside look of that new tower is ugly. It is hard to tell where the parking garage ends and the hotel rooms begin except that you know the hotel rooms must be in the tower which looks more like an office building than a casino. I suppose the architecture is supposed to be modern, but I think it only hints at something barely approaching the aesthetic. I hate that signature TS in the corner. I think it is fine thing if the car garage blends well with the rest of the structure, but I'd like the entire affect to be beautiful. This structure pretty much says "car garage."
Why is it that we can't put some art into our parking garages but must make these structures that are equivalent to cement dumpsters? No wonder there are so many murders in the detective shows in these places. They seem as dreary as death.
This new structure is so unlike the original little building with a fine circle and Turning Stone in big lights. It just seems to shout, "Just put up something and take their money!"

However, walking to the parking lot is very pleasant. You stroll down tree lined, winding walkways. The lighting is like the lighting in a park, only the trees are done in tiny lights too, almost like Christmas, only these lights are the most calming shade of blue. I liked it. There was more art in the random patterns of lights as they were arranged over the branches than in the entire tower monstrosity.
The drive home is tiring. Prairie Home tapes help but it is a long way to go with no conversation.
Come along with me next time.