I decided to start playing no limit poker at Derby Lane in St Petersburg, Florida where I thought the competition might not be as stiff as Vegas, especially in August when my next Vegas trip is planned.
Derby Lane does have some very low limit games. There is a 2-4 and a "straight 2" in which the bets do not rise on the turn. However, with a $5 rake and a dollar for the bad beat, I was further encouraged to try the no limit.
My first two nights I lost a total of $610 after about six hours of play each time. I made some mistakes, but felt it was more the cards than my play. I played very tight but not very aggressive. In each game I developed a table image of a tight player, so it was hard to bet unless I wanted to drive out the others. I did use that under the gun with medium pairs or after the flop to take a pot with second best. Just a $5 early in the game would cause people to fold or just call.
My third night I went with my buddy Lucky Pete. He has not been a poker player and wanted to try. So we played a 2-4 game and he did very well. The table was loose and passive except for one raiser. So I made money. $134. Pete lost about $27 even with hitting the jack promotion.
Monday-Wednesday Derby Lane had a promotion for winning with pocket jacks. The house double the pot up to $500. But you had to be called to the river, so it did change the play of the no limit games. Peter won for a small amount.
The next day I hit twice on the no limit winning $250 on the promotion alone and coming home with enough to put me up $9 for the trip. The no limit table really played more like limit poker. These players were cautious and not crazy. I managed to confuse them. Still again I developed a reputation for being tight so that I had to be careful not to bet. Slow playing did pay off.
My pocket jacks win on the first table was calling a fellow with a pair of tens (high flopped card) and an ace kicker. I never raised that then kept him trying to push me off the jacks. My second was similar. On that one a king came on the turn and an ace on the river but I kept calling decent bets. A guy with pocket 9's was trying to push me off. He would have gone had I raised. I was very lucky. He did not know about the jack promotion so did not consider that as part of the possibilities.
On my last night I was at a totally nutty table where raisers and callers pulled in pots on the river. When my ace went to a straight, I was beat by a fellow with a 6-2. On one hand I got aggressive. I held ace-queen and there was a queen on the flop and a decent bet from one woman in early position. I raised all in thinking that I could force out the competition and I did but she help a pair of pocket queens.
So I lost. My weekly losses were $331. Not bad for a beginner.
Still it is a much more complicated game and I don't yet really understand the nuances. I don't think I will play it much in Vegas, but it will be a better game for me at Turning Stone where the rake makes limit poker difficult. In no limit the rake is not too hard to overcome even when the table gets down to 6 players.
Derby Lane did have a bad beat, but the bad beat of the week was at Tampa Hard Rock and they hit it while I was there. It had risen to a half a million dollars o the loser of the bad beat hand won over $250.000.
One disadvantage of the dog track was that the card room can only stay open 12 hours a day so it did not open until 1PM or 2PM. On the 2-4 table the game is constantly slowed by people betting horses or dogs or that game played like hand ball with curved rackets. On the other hand this distracted the players in the same way that the horses do at the horse track.
I only be the dogs once. I bet a 2-3 exacta and the 2 came in first but the other dog was...well, a real dog. It was fun to watch them run.