Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Monday Trip to Foxwoods

Derek and I rented a car and drove up to Foxwoods. The plan was to meet up with Jay (he's an MBA student still on Christmas break) and play all afternoon until the Monday Night Limit Hold'em Tournament ($65 buy-in). Senor had class (he's also working on his MBA in Providence) so he could not make this run. I asked Haley if she wanted to tag along, but she had an acting class, so she declined.

We got there quickly and we had to wait for an open table. I signed up for both a $2-4 and a $4-8 game. Part of my new approach to playing poker in 2004 was to "select the correct game" and I wanted to bump up to $4-8. I had a nice sized bankroll (still in tact after trips to Las Vegas and Miami... the only hit was a $200 ugly loss on Dec. 23rd during an impromptu run to Foxwoods to meet Senor & Jay) and was ready to kick some ass. Some days I walked into card rooms with a positive, yet cocky attitude... and yesterday was no different. Derek had never played at Foxwoods before so I made sure he got a Wampum Card (a comp card) which was needed if you want to play in ANY of the Foxwoods daily tournaments. And it was just his second stint playing at a casino (although he played at Excalibur & the Luxor a few weeks earlier). He resisted the temptation to go to Atlantic City while I was away in Miami.

After waiting around for fifteen minutes and showing Derek the layout of the enormous poker room (the snackbar, the bathroom, spots where you can smoke, the Race Book nearby, the Stud sign up board, the regular sign-up board, and the poker tournament registration desk, etc.) they decided to start a brand new $2-4 table. I was 11th on the list (Derek was 10th) and I was 8th on the $4-8 list. I snuck in at the table after I asked the floor manager Jim (a nice guy who I recalled seeing several times before, but I'm sure he has no idea who I am) and he said that I should wait until she called the names once again before I take Seat 1. Anyway, I sat down armed with a huge stack of $200... I bought a rack of Yellows (Foxwoods uses $2 Yellow chips in addition to $1) thinking I'd be sitting at a $4-8 table. But I was itching to play and I could not resist the chance to sit at the same table as my brother, so I sat down in Seat 1. Derek had 7 and there were 3 old guys at his end. Next to me were two old guys. In Seat 4 a bartender, with a Boston Redsox hat and a goatee. In Seat 6 a young chubby kid with shades and a baseball hat sat next to Derek. The first dealer joked, "You know you look like Chris Moneymaker?" And actually the chubby kid looked like a dead ringer for Moneymaker, except his Tennessee drawl was replaced by a hard-core Boston accent. The entire time at the table, we called him Moneymaker. And everytime the dealers changed they all had to comment on the resemblance. He said he was a much better player, but he was getting shitty cards all afternoon and played looser than my stool sample the morning after $2.99 All You Can Eat Chili night at a bad Mexican hole in the wall. Anyway, he lost at least $300 (maybe more) in the five or so hours he played.

OK, the guy in Seat 8 next to Derek we referred to as "Archie Bunker." He was an old guy from the local area and he made several questionable comments... similar to the nonpolitically correct musings of Archie Bunker from the infamous 1970s sitcom All in the Family. Anyway, I made him for the best player at the table (especially after the third or fourth hand when he smoothly check-raised the bartender and took a big pot) and tried to avoid heads-up play with him and carefully watched to see what hands he raised pre-flop with. The guy next to me was a stereotypical player that you'll find everywhere in card rooms and casinos all over America and the world. He reminded me of Jack Lemon's character in the film Glengary Glenross, when he plays Gil, the loser real-estate salesman, who can't seem to close any deal. This guy bitched and moaned... he cried and complained... he whined and brooded over every hand that he had to muck or when he lost. Actually I saw that he got several great starting hands... he caught a nice flurry of high pocket pairs... Aces, Kings, Queens, Jacks... and A-K on more than one occasion (and this was in the short two hour period he sat next to me... I don't think I got as many good starting hands in a week in Miami than he did in that two hour span). When he had to fold he would violently shake his head and maliciously throw his cards down at the table. He bitched at the cocktail waitress for taking too long to get him his freakin Zinfandel wine. He was an asshole to the dealer when she didn't deal his cards exactly in front of him. One time Derek beat the guy on a good hand and in disgust he slammed his cards down at the table and his hands followed his cards, making a loud smacking sound as they slapped the felt, which startled me. I just grinned, knowing that Derek took his money. When he left after losing his bankroll, one of the dealers turned to me and said, "He comes here everyday and does the same thing." I was glad he left.

I was doing well early (up $50 after 90 minutes) and I decided to stay at my table even after my name was called for $4-8. I figure I'd wait until Jay arrived and try to get on the same $4-8 table with him. Time to concentrate on the bartender and "Moneymaker's" money. Aside from Derek and myself, everyone at the table was in their fifties or older, with the exception of the Moneymaker Clone and the bartender. I like playing against younger players (meaning younger than me). They are loose and watch too much poker on TV. They have no concept of pot odds and probably thumbed through one of the various poker books (mostly like;y Phil Hellmuth's inconsistent book) while taking a shit one Sunday morning, but aside from that, they haven't picked up one serious book on poker. I want to play against that kind of dead money. Bartenders almost always have extra cash lying around (tips and more tips) and love to drink, so they are fun to play against and have no problem blowing some of their tip money. This nice guy had no chance against the rest of the table. He kept digging in to his pockets to rebuy $40 at a time. He would stay in with medium two pairs against obvious flush and straight draws. He was over matched and I kept encouraging him to stay... "Ypu'll get 'em next time!" Oh yeah, I beat him a couple of times on some decent hands.

When 4-7o is better than A-A...? When I play low limit...

Three hours into the session, Jay was nowhere to be found, and I caught A-A in late position. just an hour before Derek's pocket aces did not hold up! There was a raise in front of me and I re-raised to $6 pre-flop. On the flop: J-K-9. Derek was first to act and he checked. Archie Bunker bet, I raised to $4, Moneymaker, Derek and Archie all called. Rags fell on the turn. Everyone checked and I bet. Archie Bunker folded. 10 fell on the river. Derek checked, I bet, Money and Derek called. Derek turned over J-J. He flopped a set of Jacks and just checked, then called every bet! After I threw my cards down and watched him stack up my chips I asked him, "Why didn't you raise me... any of those times?" He got scared of me since I didn't play too many pots up until then. He thought that maybe I had a straight or pocket Kings. I hate getting those pocket Aces cracked like that.

Ten minutes later, I'm on the button with 4-7o. My brother teased me once saying that 4-7o was a hand I'd play without any hesitation. It wasn't until I nailed four of a kind at the Luxor with a 4-7o that I even considered the various options of a stellar starting hand. Now I'll play it when I can... especially in late position, when I only have to call one bet. Anyway, I'm on the button, my favorite spot. I see a shitty 4-7o and call (although I considered a button raise!). The big blind choose his option for a raise. I sighed (slightly aloud so he could hear it) and tossed in my extra $2 chip to call. On the flop: 8-5-6. I just flopped a straight!!! Now I'm shaking my head. Aces won't hold up, but I know I'll get a huge pot that will pay me off for losing on those Aces to Derek. I raised after the flop and kept it up all the way to the river especially after a King and an Ace fell on the turn and river. Everyone was shocked when I showed my anemic 4-7o... good enough to win and while I was stacking my chips the big blind who raised, was shaking his head, "You called a pre-flop raise with 4-7o?"

"I know. It was a cheap win. Didn't you see me tip the dealer $2? (Something I do when I get a pot I had no business winning) But I was irked you raised! I wanted to defend my $2!"

Later on I took the same old guy for a huge pot when I held A-J suited. I seem to win a lot of huge pots on A-J suited... I tend to catch straights and flushes and that hand might pay me off as much as any other hand in low limit hold'em. Anyway, good old Pauly flops a nut flush after three medium clubs hit the board. I raised and re-raised the old guy after he tried to bully me. Moneymaker Clone called too. I was hoping he had the King of clubs. When the betting was capped, I turned over my nut flush. Moneymaker had the Kc-10c and the old guy had three of a kind. He thought I was bluffing a nut flush!! I guess my 4-7o threw him off a bit and he figured I played shit all the time. It was a nice win and showed me that shifting gears once in a while is good... as long as someone is paying attention.

Five hours into our session, I was up $120. I was up nearly $160 at one point, but I hovered around the $100-120 sector most of the afternoon. I had over $300 in chips at the table... I had the big stack and everyone new that sat down assumed I won all of that there. Eventually, I got "river'd" a few times and lost a huge pot on a full house to an old guy who showed up with his wife. They never played in a casino before. They openly admitted that they watched poker "on the TV." I'm always suspect of anyone who refers to television as "the TV." Anyway, the wife sat down next to me and her husband sat across from me. They had no clue what was going on. They had to be told when to act and to bet and what they could bet or not... you get the picture... it slowed down the game and I would have left if I wasn't waiting until the sign-up started for the Limit Tourney. The wife won several pots early on straights and flushes. They were tough to play against because they could have any cards in their hands! A few times they stayed into the river with nothing and other times they turned over monster hands.

Here's what went down. I had Q-Q on the button. Pauly raised it up. The flop (no joke): K-K-K. Everyone checked and I bet. Five callers including the old guy. A low card comes out and everyone checked. I bet and just two called. On the river an Ace falls. I was doomed. I figured one of the two had the ace. Old guy who doesn't know how to play bets, and I raised anyway and both called. One caller had Kings over pocket 9s! I had Kings over pocket Queens and the old guy had an Ace in his hand. Mother fucker! I lost a big pot and slowly I lost all the money I won in the previous five plus hours. I should have gotten up and walked away when that couple sat down. By the time I went to cash out, I was up $5 for the session. Derek was up $20. Jay finally arrived late (around 5pm) and decided to just play in the tournament.

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