I went up on the bus to the Tampa Hard Rock yesterday. It is a long 5 hour round trip for just 5 hours of poker, but it fit my mood. I was sleepy enough to doze a bit on the way up and read the local paper and the NY Times. In the Times was a photo of struggling manatee and more notes on the crop failures here. That is projected to add a dollar a pound to the price of fruit in New York.
The bus is $25 and they give you $30 in free-play of which I realized $23. I played full play on a nickel slot and hit one good one. It is fun. With my own money I'd never play maximum, but I wanted not to waste poker time.
The poker machines were all busy. I did not see pay tables, but as I remember they were not very good. Still, to play a nice volatile double double bonus with my free play would have been my choice. Perhaps I'll make a habit of playing it all out first when I get there.
I lost at poker, down $128. It was a no limit game so that is a small variance although I was never up that much. I was very happy to feel so comfortable at this game. I was seated right away and in the first hour I had all but a few players figured. While most hands did not go to the river, this was a table of players who talked about what they had and also the strategy they would have used.
One was a liar.
The others were sincere and their talk would have helped me had I gotten many hands to play. Generally, I was out of the action.
Once in this period I had pocket aces and they were busted, but did not cost me too much. There were few all in betters and few who got caught stealing. I stole just one pot and not with an all in bet, but with just enough to push.
Three players at the table were generally in all action and one would bet third and fourth best hands. I watched a fellow with a second best hand try to push this guy out by over-betting and representing a nut hand. The fellow called the large bet with just a pair of pocket queens. There has been an Ace on the flop and other possibilities existed.
This fellow generally showed his cards when he did not have to, so we saw what he played. He was the fish at the table, but it did me no good. I did not win a single large hand from him and he bought in and played for about three hours.
He got lucky and caught a few straights, so if he bet out, he got respect. In fact, you could see in his body language when he had a nice straight and bet it.
From the other two I took small pots, but I think that I was seen too much as a rock and I had trouble deciding how much they might call.
I caught one in an all-in bet, but he did not have many chips left.
None of these fellows was very aggressive towards me. I trapped one, but just barely and not for all-in money even though he had a very good queen high flush. I had the ace high. The river put up yet another club and that scared him off an all in bet.
Eventually, all these fellows left broke, but I had not benefited too much.
Others who came in were better players, did not talk about their game much. They talked general poker talk and talked it in a way that let me know my opponents had changed.
I'd have left the table had I had more time to play and played a bit of limit, but by that time I did not have enough time to make leaving a reasonable decision. In Vegas, I'd have gone to supper. Here my only food was a free slice of pizza on my bus coupon and I ate that while standing in line to pay for it.
The lines here are incredible and because the place is packed with old people everything moves in slow motion. Most places I am an old guy. Here I am a youngster. To cash my $23 ticket out in one of the cashing machines too forever because figuring out what to do on the screen was a great puzzle to old woman after old woman.
"See the little money bad symbol, Ma'am? Well, you just touch that and your money will be dispensed."
I don't know what these old folks do to get to the bathroom. I am old enough that when it is time to head for the bathroom, I definitely need to get there, and my desire to get back to my poker game speeds me up as well. At the pace these folks travel, I'd never make it in time.
At Tampa, to walk even in fast designated lanes, reserved for walking, is like playing a video game around the daydreaming, sauntering folks and those who are having long conversations while blocking the traffic.
Oh, I know I'll get there my self one day and take my walker and stop, "for no apparent reason" as Vegas comic Big John says in his act.
Well, at least I hope to get there, and with a mind that can still play poker.
I did like seeing that I could read the tables and I hope that will allow me to employ good table selection in Vegas.
There were no real maniacs. I really don't know how to play those fellows. I get intimidated where every other hand is all in for all my chips. I better like the passive players, especially if they like to call and if they are easily read.
One of the poor players got in quite a row when the dealer mucked his cards. He was sitting in seat one, and something really strange happened. He had a pair of nines and bet and then suddenly he had 2-3off-suit .
No one admitted folding those cards.
Where did they come from?
The dealer was not supposed to look at the muck, but he did and there were pocket nines there, but he lied and said there was only one nine. I was in seat ten and could see easily what was there.
That dealer had missed moving the button to me, missed how many were in the hand, and made a few other small errors, so I could easily see believe that he had made the error.
The floor was called.
"Where did these two cards(2-3) come from?" he asked.
It was a strange judgement in my opinion.
It is common for seat one cards to be mucked if unprotected and out a bit toward the line. "Protect your hand," should have been the answer.
No one in the entire conversation suggested he do this.
When it was all over, and we were back to play, the fellow still did not protect his cards. I called over to him and told him he should put chips on his cards, or a card protector, but he was having none of it. I was, perhaps, the wrong guy to tell him since he was constantly at odds as to what to go when I bet out big on the river and had him beat after he had led the betting along the way, trying to push me. He was not going to take any suggestions from me.
I remembered one young fellow in Vegas in the same situation. The dealer got silently angry and just kept mucking his unprotected hand on purpose. The kid got pretty riled, but there too he would not use a card protector. Finally, he just left.
Well, my big lost hand was near the end of my visit. I had K-3 of spades and called twenty dollars with two spades on the flop. At the turn I also had a wheel draw. My opponent bet almost forty and I just decided to take a chance of hitting on the river.
He showed pocket aces, trips with the board, so I was behind all the way and any board doubling would have made his hand. Any spade that did not double the board, or any four would have made mine. I could tell he did not have the ace of spades with another spade by the way he bet out. I folded the river bet.
The only thing I miss from the limit is the talking. In no limit there is so much to watch and evaluate and so much to think about. I am absolutely quiet. One of the poor players when I made a healthy river bet to try and take the pot, took a long while to wonder if I was bluffing. He asked me if I had a king, but by that time my eye contact was across the room, my poker face in place, and he could gather nothing from my expression. He folded his fifth best hand, but the next time I trapped him. I could see I was a huge frustration for him. Still I folded plenty of hands to him as well, when what were good cards went sour.
At limit, especially 2-4 I like to talk and joke and drink and have a bit of a party at the table. At no limit it is all just cards. Some no limit players can seem to do both well. I am not there yet. I need plenty of time to think and consider.
Also, these no limit games of ten are just an entirely different dance from the home game no limit we play with five or six in Schenectady every week. There we know each other, and fewer people and lower stakes makes it possible to play more hands.
I am hoping that Vegas will offer me both experiences when I stay on the strip in April. And pretty soon I hope I can start to win at no limit. Playing for five hours and being only one good hand or so behind is not a bad score, however.