Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Day of Poker at Ocala Jai Alai

So here is how it is for me and poker down here in Florida.
I played about 11 sessions last year and came away down money. Usually, just a few dollars, but still that did not do much for my confidence.
This year I played one session at Tampa Hard rock and lost, but I was ahead for a while and my new hit and run no limit on short stack strategy had me winning and feeling like I knew how to play that way against people who I knew could outplay me in the long run if I wasn’t short stacked.
I decided that I just wouldn’t bother so much with Tampa Hard Rock this and fish more mullet than poker pots, although those little critters have proved tougher opponents than rock hard poker partners.
Still I just go the the Hard Rock a few times when I have people to get at the airport, but when Elizabeth feels comfortable with no car for a day and can free me up on a Wednesday for the Ocala Jai Alai games, I play there for fun.
On Wednesday and on Saturday they have a spread limit 1-3 game. There is no way to expect to win money because the rake and tip take so much, but in the 1-3 I can expect to have a bit of fun and break about even.
What happens on Wednesday is a bus load of seniors from a huge nearby senior complex called the Villages come in every Wednesday and so that 1-3 spread limit game emerges as variety to what is usually a no limit game.
This sort of game can also gives me the kind of social interaction with banter and jokes that I like to mix with the poker.
It is not the cosmopolitan crowd I love in Vegas at limit games, and some of the people are taciturn, dull, and well.......pretty brain dead dull. They seriously treat the 1-3 like real poker; there are always a few old men annoyed with life and everything who don’t like a lot of joking around because life is not funny and poker isn’t either. Why these old grumps would no sooner joke around at a poker game than they would at the Baptist Evangelical Gun collectors rally and rebel flag waving tent salvation convention.
But others are good humored and good for conversation and banter.
I met a guy who lives summers up near Bar Harbor. Maine. and he was interesting to talk to because my poker buddy Ron goes there every year and we shared a bit of his hometown, with him mostly talking about his pleasure in escaping..
He day trades in stocks down here in Florida, but when he said that, the one good humored guy Walter actually thought he said he traded in socks and seriously asked him what that was like, so that became the joke of the afternoon, revisited time and time again. I
liked that.
Then right next to me was a woman who knew that we were just there to have fun, and she said so, and she got soused on beer and laughed like a college girl, and had a grand old time without being very obnoxious although she did seem to embarrass her ride Rick at the other end of the table who was sheepish and quiet and probably wanted to take her home. She built good pots and called even when she did not get lucky.

My own humor was sometimes missed.
Serious John got a bit annoyed at me when after my reraise right before the drunk lady who asked me what I had ( I reraised on the button preflop with pocket kings trying to limit the field by taking a woman’s initial bet of $2 up to the unheard of extravagance of 5 dollars)
I had just won a pot with a flopped two pair the hand before, and the drunk lady started to do a fake whine and complain in a good humored fashion about me bullying and such.
I told her that I was really forced to make the raise because once again I had two pair on the flop. (remember this is preflop so that is absurd)
Well, that joke just swished over the heads of whole table and old dull and serious John started to complain about such a ridiculous position, and lectured me that I could not have the two pair because there had been no flop. I guess he seriously thought I seriously believed I held two pair was telling my true hand and an idiot besides.
After that I tried to be less dry and made my jokes more transparent and simple.
Puns on socks trading in Maine worked with allusions to L L Bean. Well, old dull John did not quite get those either, but they weren’t about poker, so he was just quiet and I guess seriously counting his outs or figuring his pot odds or communing with God about guns or just sucking something out of the hollows of the few teeth he had left.

Drunk lady was in her late seventies and acting like a teenager, but not in any obnoxious way. I liked her and so did Walter, except she kept elbowing him in the ribs and once she punched him in the arm.
He laughed, but I think he was a bit annoyed.
Walter acted after her and was a very good poker player except he explained every one of his decisions, so he gave away too much information. Some poker are more afraid that they will be perceived as bad players than they are of losing pots because people correctly perceive them as smart.

It was a fine game to play for fun and for the high hand house award of $100 given every 30 minutes. Two people at my table won this during the afternoon and it was a great deal of fun to see a nice high Aces-full posted and then watch the countdown clock and wonder if there was time for someone to catch a better hand or if the high full house would hold up.
One dealer said that the room was packed on New Years even when one of these high hand awards was worth $2013 and it was actually won by a woman who early in the hour caught Aces full and then saw them hold up for the money. The rest of New Years Eve quads and straight flushes won, but that big hand awarded the full house.
For high hands to count there needs to be $10 in the pot and both cards have to play, but one could be a kicker, so an A-6 with a flop of three sixes would qualify.
Then when some won, the casino made a nice little fuss, coming with a camera to take a photo just like hitting 10 grand in a Vegas slot.
I like all of it. It is the same entertainment as Vegas with less risk and these high hand awards are much more satisfying than that constant banter about “bad beats” in most places.
For a while it was the only limit game, so high hands could be expected more often at that table and folks played all the possibilities so even though the rakes were high, the pots could get big, splashed as they were by straight flush possibilities.
They opened up a 2-4, but I stayed with the spread limit because I like it better.
I did not hit any high hand, but I did very well for a while and then I lost my profit back playing one hand really poorly that I should have just tossed back early.

When the drunk lady left with other people on the senior citizen bus, including Walter, and left me with the dull witted taciturn old grumps.
I left the 1-3 table down three dollars after a few hours, well, really up $7 since my early play at no limit had cost me about $10
I took the last seat at a 1-1 NL game and entered in first position and too the option of buying the button. For $2 that makes sense to me. I’m only playing mostly button and near button hands anyway, as well as the many, many limped blind hands I get to play in this game because it is not an aggressive game and preflop raises don’t happen so much.
I’m dealt 7-2 of diamonds. Remember I’m in first position.
Two diamonds come on the flop, so I check and then call a $2 bet somewhere with a few callers. I am very weak, but this is like a 2-4 game.
We all check the turn.
The river comes with the diamond, but I check it in first position figuring anyone calling me has a higher flush. One woman bets $2 and everyone folds.
So, I say, “How about $10?” and toss in two red chips figuring that if she has a small flush, but one probably higher than mine, with this hefty check raise, I might be able to push her off of the smaller flush for this match the pot bet.
She thinks a minute, but not long, and she calls.
“Well, I guess she has got me beat.” I say , and turn over my cards.
Well, she doesn’t.
Nice to sit down and win the first hand from terrible position with 7-2.

What I learn all day is that I can’t put people on hands. I’ll watch the betting, put them on such and such and I’m just stupid about it. Sometimes I win with my stupidity.
In one game I am on the button with A-Q and I raise to $3 because this will take out the terrible blind limp cards. yes, in this game $3 will steal blinds.
The flop comes A-x-x and I make a bet on the button and get maybe two callers.
I should have bet on the turn, but I worry about A-K and there is not much to draw to, so I let it go with a free card.
On the river, a king falls and a guy bets just ahead of me.
I call and when he flips his cards, I first see the K and I’m so sure he had A-K that I groan a bit before I see that it is K-something and he was calling me to draw into some inside straight and instead of worrying about my Ace, he bet his second best river king but not so much as to push me off my pair of Aces.

So I learn that this inability to read hands is one of the reasons I can’t play this game well. And this makes sense to me and explains why I do better at our weekly game with the same fellows every week, but don’t do well in the casino. I can put them on hands because I know how they play. In the casino I just suck at reading strangers.

When I really don’t put a guy on a hand is when we are heads up and he is betting small with a large full house. I’m calling. He is just trying to get the pot up to $10 because kings full is at this point the high hand of the half hour, and he wants to be in that $100 running. I never put him on such a hand and he puts me on something pretty low, so he even after he has the minimum, he just value bets the river for $3. Maybe he hopes I will come back over the top and try to push him.

When he shows the kings full high hand, I am very surprised. And then he says that he had tried to signal me to help him out with getting the $10 minimum in the pot. I feel pretty stupid. I completely missed any signal and did not put him on much of anything and was in the dark about anything inspite of the obvious clues that I guess were right there.


There was no chance to play short stacked on a 1-1 $60 max table. I could have joined higher staked tables, but I liked playing where on a small bankroll I could play real poker and did not have to leave when I doubled up. For a good bit of the time with $160 in front of me , I was top chipped guy at that NL table by $40, so no one was going to take me on the river for all my money. Playing short chipped here would mean playing with a $20 buy in and going all in preflop against just a few dollars and certainly making these folks angry.
It would be the ultimate grind and not much fun. To hit and run with a $20 profit is not appealing even to my small potatoe self.
And this was not a game with many all-in bets and most of those would be made from nut hands. Very little bully bluffing at all. So the advantage of short stacked play, the absence of the big bluff, was absent here just as much as at a short stacked, higher stakes and aggressive game.


As well as learning that I can’t read strangers and put them on hands, I think I better learned when it is time to go home.
On the limit table there was a time when the fellow next to me from Maine turned and said, “Man, you sure are getting some good kickers.” I guess he missed how many hands I tossed away and that I was only showing good kickers because I was only playing good kickers. In that game good kickers would win more money than good hands because folks were playing king and Ace with small kickers right to the river. But I realized that this drew attention to how tight I was and it might be time to go.
On the no limit, the fellow who got and quickly lost the $100 high hand bonus, looked at me and said with some annoyance, “You know the only hand you have lost is when I had the high hand and beat you.” pointing out that if I was in it to the river, I was strong and not just full of hope or bluff. So, with that being my table image, explained for anyone who had not noticed, it was time to leave there too because second, third, and fourth best were going to stop calling, fold and not pay me.
And perhaps it is time to leave whenever I am up $100 at any game.


And finally, the “junk winning hand” of the day happened to me in middle position when I limped in with a dollar because I had not played in a long, long while. I held 6 and 10 of clubs. What was I thinking??
The flop was 7-8-9 rainbow and I slow played well enough, made a pot building bet on the turn when there were also two clubs giving me a flush possibility as well, and I had three callers when I bet my $15 on a no flush possible river, one raising to $18 to go all=in and go home. My straight was a surprise to everyone.
And for once I had correctly read that no one had the nut 10-J that might have made me cry.
“ My lucky hand,” I announced hoping to spoil a tight table image, “I win so often with these two cards that I just have to always play them. 6-9 works that way for me as well.”
I don’t know if they believed me.
The day’s hands themselves were no great wonder. No pocket Aces or Queens or tens all day. I lost with Pocket kings and twice with A-K. Pocket fours flopped a set ,and I slow played and did well on that pot against two pair bettors. Pocket 8’s, 9’s, 2’s 3’s 5’s went no where. Suited connectors never connected. I think I got one full house all day and no Ace high flushes. But $104 is huge for me.
I’ll take it.
They tell me on Saturday the high hands are awarded $500 every 30 minutes, but the room is full and so the odds dwindle or perhaps stay about the same as there are perhaps five times the players in each hand. Still, the 1-3 game will be there for certain and that is the one where the high hands have the best odds of hitting.
I’ll be back.


The Unlikely Boatbuilder said...

I bought my boat in that part of the world, and spent a month living with the natives while getting her ready for sea.

This was a couple years after the 2008 election and the guy I bought the boat from was an old 60s type, very much out of place in NW Florida.

He and his wife had voted for Obama, though sensibly they kept their politics to themselves.

After the election, the results were announced: 3 citizens of the town had voted for Obama.

Two years later, they still wondered who that third voter was.

Anonymous said...

Way to go Dewster. You missed the "I love you Jon" game at Gregg's yesterday. What a hoot. Guess I won't be visiting you guys as plans have changed. :(

Pet a dolphin for me :)

Fast Ed