Saturday, March 06, 2004

Foxwoods March Trip Report

The drive up with Derek went as quick as ever. Got up to Connecticut in almost record time from NYC. No traffic, which was fine by me. When I got there, Senor had already been playing $4-8 for several hours. He checked into the room at the hotel then hit the poker room. Derek had to wait almost an hour for our game. And ironically, the wait for $4-8 was longer than for a $2-4 game.

While we waited, we chatted with Senor then grabbed some fries from the cafe. I always walk around the vast poker room when I'm waiting for my game. I watched some of the other games. The 20-40 Stud game at Foxwoods has to be one of the most liveliest games I have ever seen. Plenty of bluffing and a lot of action early in those hands. It's rare to see a showdown with more than 2 people, but I like to keep an eye on that table. I also watched the $5-10 Kill game, a place where I'd like to be sitting in the near future. The stacks of red chips intimidated me. I wish I had the bankroll to play properly in that game. I'm sure plenty of my fellow poker bloggers would crush that game (e.g. HDouble, The Penguin, Grubby, Iggy & Felicia). And I did wander over to the No-Limit table. That game is intense. $200 minimum buy-in and I saw plenty of $100 bills on the table. One fellow had two stacks of $25 chips ($2000 value), a shitload of $5 stacks and a pile of Ben Franklin's. (Side note: when I left Foxwoods the next day, he was still playing.)

Fish Fry at $2-4

Derek's $2-4 game got called first and I was called right after. My name was fifth on the $4-8 game so I knew I would get on a $4-8 table very soon. I went all the way to the back corner (looked like we were playing on a stud table) and when I walked up there were 7 frat boys, one old guy, a plumber, and me. Table image is extremely important, and I was very well dressed (for me) in my standard black dinner jacket, collared shirt, green Mirage hat. I looked like a well dressed poker player and if I learned anything from L.A. born and bred Haley... in some circles, image is everything. I definitely tried to intimidate the newbies with my mere presence. I gave the floor manager my Wampum Card (rate or comp card) and he swiped me in. On the way back to the table he said, "Good luck, Paul."

I was a seat in front of the blinds and I waited to post. Howie (one of my favorite dealers) dealt me cards and I told him I wanted to wait. I gave him the cards back and he peeked at them. He shook his head, "Pauly you should have posted!"

Howie told me he'd show me the cards after the hand. I'm sure that you're not supposed to do that, but I laughed anyway. Of course now I have 18 eyes on me. The table seemed quiet for a bunch of frat boys, and no one had a huge stack. If anyone was paying attention, they would have assumed that I was a regular, ergo, I'm a player to be reckon'd with. Yeah, I'm such an asshole, trying to bully fish on a $2-4 table. The hand is over and Howie flashed me my hole cards (Q-J diamonds). I shook my head and smiled. I posted the big blind and got 9-3 suited. I flopped top and bottom pair and check-raised. I got four callers. I check-raised again on the turn (my favorite play) and got 2 callers. On the river I bet out and got two callers. My two pair lost to a higher two pair, after the guy caught his overard on the river. Oh well. I lost almost $20 on that hand. No big deal.

In the little blind: A-K of hearts. Ah yes, suited Big Slick. I just smooth called since there were only five other callers. The flop: 7-A-2. Who's playing the Hammer? I checked, and called along with four others. On the river: J. I bet (hoping for a raise) and the kid on the button next to me, wearing a Boston College football visor, raised. I called and we have four players in the pot. The river: A. I checked. Another checked, one bet and the button raised. I re-raised. One folded, one called, and the button just called. I flipped over A-K for my trips. Everyone shook their heads. I guess they never saw it coming. Howie pushed me the pot and I tipped him $3. I love stacking up chips slowly in front of fish, especially after all the times I lost huge pots on tremendous suck-outs.

Next hand: K-Q on the button. I come in for a raise. I loved it when a King fell on the flop. But when a second 2 hit the turn, I got a little spooked and slowed down. I betcha some kid had a A-2 or K-2 or even 9-2 suited out there. I didn't want to get burned. But I said, "Fuck it!" and raised anyway on the turn. I got two callers and a rag fell on the river. Two players checked I bet, one kid folded, the other guy called and said, "I hope you don't have a two."

He had K-9 and I out kicked him. Howie pushed another big pot to me and I heard my name called for a $4-8 game. I hopped out of my seat and ran up to the big board to lock up my seat. I was up $30 in three hands. If I never lost the first pot, I would have been doing very well. I almost wanted to stay with the fish. It seemed like an easy table to crack, but I had a game plan, and that did not include playing $2-4.

Busting Senor

I get called to Senor's $4-8 table! I was excited. I was there to see one of my best friends and we got to sit at the same table (Derek played $2-4 two tables away). Senor had been drinking Scotch since 4pm (it was 9:15pm). I never get to see him anymore since he moved to Providence. In the last six months, he got married, had a kid, and started working on his MBA. He's a busy guy and was looking forward to a day off. I was fortunate he chose to spend the day with me and my brother.

The table seemed jovial. Some good players, and a lot of loose ones.
Seat 1: Grandma (in her 80s)
Seat 2: Senor (very drunk)
Seat 3: Happy Guy (also drunk)
Seat 4: Rich Guy (called everything to the river)
Seat 5: Old Guy (looked liked Judge Smails from Caddyshack)
Seat 6: Young kid (Sklansky disciple)
Seat 7: Pauly
Seat 8: Chip Leader
Seat 9: Hippie Guy
Seat 10: Eminem Clone
Plenty of action at the table. On my first hand I had J-x suited. I flopped a Jack and just checked. I think I ended up checking everything down to the river and called a $8 bet. I won the pot but Eminem (who had an unlit cigarette dangling from his mouth... Foxwoods is a smoke free poker room) had to comment.

"Yo, why weren't you betting with top pair? On the flop, you had it and checked. On the turn, you checked, and you just called on the river."

"What's your name?" I shot back stacking up my chips.

"Marshall Mathers," he answered.

"Well, Marshall, thanks for the hand history. I'll be sure to call upon your services next time I want my game analyzed. Do you have a business card?"

I can be such a dick sometimes. I said it with a smile, but with a tinge of heavy NYC sarcasm. He ended up being a nice guy, he just rubbed me the wrong way on the first hand.

Back to image. On the East Coast, you frequently get asked the question, "What do you do?"

Normally I answer, "I'm a writer." To which the follow-up question, "What do you write?"

I'm proud of my four novels and now two screenplays. And answer that. Especially with the ladies. But recently I decided to not let on how literate I am at the poker table. Instead I say, "I'm retired. I used to be a bond trader on Wall Street."

Which is partially true. I retired many moons ago to start a writing career and returned after 9.11 when a well-known firm made me a nice offer to join their team (and then departed ways one year ago). Actually, for the record, I retired twice. But hey, they don't know anything. When you hear the term Wall Steet, most people think, "Rich guy". I'd rather have the preception that I'm a rich guy with free time on my hands, rather than letting on that I'm an avid reader of a dozen poker books, the struggling author of the Tao of Poker, with several maxed out credit cards, and a bar tab at the Cedar Tavern equivalent to the GNP of a central African developing nation. Again thanks to Haley for that tip. I dressed like a rich man and they saw me for a rich man.

Anyway, I had to split a pot with Grandma when we both had Q-Q. I was worried when she called a pre-flop raise. Elderly women in casinos have a table image of being rocks. They'll wait for hours for a solid hand. I lost on A-Q suited and my 10-10 got beat when face cards flooded the flop. I won a sweet hand on the button with Q-6 suited after I raised pre-flop and caught the flush on the flop.

Then at 11:15pm, Senor's stack had dwindled. He had a few $20 bills underneath his chips. I suspected that he might be at the tail end of his session (almost 7 plus hours) and was ready to crash in the room for a while. Senor was on the button. Seats 3 & 4 are the blinds. I'm in middle position with K-7 suited and I limped in. There were five players including Senor. The flop: K-5-Q. I bet out and two dropped out, two others called. An Ace fell on the turn. I checked, hippie guy bet, Senor called, and I checked-raised! I made the bet $16 dollars. Hippie guy and Senor called. On the river: K. Nice. I bet. Hippie guy folded. Senor raised when he tossed a $20 bill into the pot! The dealer made change for him.

"What the fuck? Why are you raising me?"

I peek at my cards. I got a trips. Does Senor have A-K? How about K-Q? He's on the button. What could he have? I see he doesn't have many chips left. Was he trying to steal the pot? I re-raised Senor! He thought for a second and said, "I only have $6 left. I'm all-in."

Senor had all his money in the pot and I turned over my K. He shook his head. He told me later he had a Q-10 suited. He missed his straight and thought two pair was good enough. Alas, I took Senor last $50+ and he left for the room. I felt bad, but he raised me! He should have known better.

Sad Amy got pushed to my table and I started making everyone laugh. When she got pushed, I got J-J in the blinds. I raised and got four limpers to call. I flopped a full boat: J-6-6. I checked on the flop and check-raised on the turn. I got the Drunk Guy twice with check raises on that hand. I couldn't believe I had the balls to check raise on the river. I figured he would check as well, but when he bet, I couldn't believe it. I raised and he called. When I flipped over my J-J. He said, "I thought you were bluffing."

Grandma in the corner said, "Are you an idiot? He raised pre-flop and check raised you on the turn." He laughed and said, "No I'm not dumb, just rich."

Alas, I was up $115 and I should have walked away. I took a dinner break with Derek and we ate the infamous chicken fingers that Foxwoods has to sell. I go back to my table and in the next 90 minutes I lost $130. Ouch. I knew I should have went back to the room and took a nap. I tried to bluff Grandma with my 2-2. I raised pre-flop and should have known I was toast when she played back at me. I called her raise and was happy as flies on shit when I flopped my third 2. Alas, I lost on a flush. Grandma had A-K suited and would have been pissed if I beat her with my 2-2. Then my 6-6 got busted when I flopped another 6 and of course, the Drunk Guy caught a straight on the river. J-J got busted by a flush and A-K got smoked.

I lost a lot of my hands to this woman who sat down and took Senor's seat. I nicknamed her Loose Lucy. She saw every hand until the river. She lost a lot of money but won a few pots on a few unreal suck outs. She was also the buzzkill of the night. The table was nice and happy, with all my bad impressions and everyone was nice and comfortable with everyone else. Then Loose Lucy sat down and told everyone a horrible story how she came there with her ex-husband, who's really her best friend ever since they lost a child together. It was uncalled for... her story. She was drunk and I let it slide. But the table was dead silent for several minutes. I mean everyone has problems. Why bring your baggage to the table? Should I tell everyone at the table the names of friends of mine that died on 9.11? Not at all, that would be particularly uncool. She ruined the vibe. I decided it was time to leave. I left the table down $13. If you count the $30 extra I showed up with at the table (from $2-4) I lost $43 playing $4-8 in five hours.

Derek stayed behind and I went up to the room. I never stayed at Foxwoods before. On the weekends, the rooms are over $200 a night. On the week days, for regular players, you can get rooms for as low as $69. The rooms were elegant and the bathroom was huge (the size of many NYC apartments). The beds were tiny. I felt like Shaq with my legs dangling off the bottoms (and I'm only six foot tall). All in all, the view was amazing. Nothing but trees and rolling hills for miles. Yep, we were in the middle of nowhere.

I got 3.5 hours of sleep, watched Sportscenter with Senor (Derek came in late and left early... he slept for maybe an hour) and took a needed shower. Senor dropped $160 and Derek lost $140 at his $2-4 table, most of it after our dinner break.

Second Session

The casino was dead at 8:00 am. I walked into the poker room and the No Limit game was still going, but with only 4 players. I found Derek and sat down at his table. He was playing $4-8! I thought it was a $2-4 table (and bought in for just $80) and was going to play only because I wanted to sit at the same table as Derek. Alas, it was a $4-8 and Derek graduated to a higher limit for the first time. (He had only been playing poker for a few months). I normally sit down with $200 at a $4-8 table, but I didn't think twice about reloading. I decided if lost my $80 then that was it. Derek had taken a hit and told me when I sat down, he was down $240 for the trip.

I didn't get any cards. My K-K got no action when I raised pre-flop. One kid from the button called my J-J raise from the blinds. Of course he caught a straight on the river and I lost half my stack. My A-K didn't hold up either. I lost $76 at the table in three hours.

Derek on the other hand had a great rush. I saw him school a drunk guy in Vegas at the Excalibur when he took his entire rack of $1 chips. But this was much better. He was playing a higher limit with better players. Inside an hour, he caught three flushes and his 10-10 was enough to take down a huge pot when he flopped his set. Alas, Derek finished the trip only down $40+. He won $200 in front of me, to cut his losses. I was impressed with his play. He folded when he should have and raised when he felt he had the best hand. One older woman, (she looked like George Costanza's mother with glasses and a British accent) seemed irked at Derek's run. She insisted on seeing his cards on more than one occasion. I think she was just bitter that Derek was on a rush.

Alas, it got to almost 11 am and the buses arrived with gamblers from NYC and Boston and all over New England. Foxwoods started to fill up and it was time for us to go.
Final Totals:
Derek -40
Pauly -89
Senor -160

My Totals:
2-4: +30
4-8: -119
Ouch. Who would have thought that I would have played better in the 10 minutes I played 42-4? Alas, I played OK, not great, but I didn't get great cards in my second session. I made a bad call by playing those 2-2 against Grandma's A-K (cost me almost $50) and I should have walked away before my meal break when I was up $115. Lesson learned for sure.

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