Monday, September 27, 2004

Borgata Blogger Misadventures
"You might wanna check in on your boyfriend, I just put a bad beat on him." - Al Cant Hang
24 Sept. 2004... Atlantic City, NJ

It took exactly two hours to drive from midtown Manhattan to the Borgata, with a piss stop along the way. Not bad time for a sunny Friday morning. I forgot that Atlantic City is actually a few minutes closer to NYC than Foxwoods. As soon as I parked, I called Al Cant Hang and the lovely Mrs. H. They were just five minutes behind me. We arranged to meet at the B Bar, centrally located in the middle of the casino. I had only been to the Borgata once before during their first opening week but never had the chance to play cards.

By 11:43am, the ever generous Senor Al No Puede Colgar bought his second round of drinks... the usual for himself, a cranberry and Malibu for Mrs. H and a pint of Lager for yours truly. We toasted to Iggy and Sean and everyone else who couldn't make the journey. We were awaiting the arrival of Grubby who had passed out at 8:30 that morning after a late night session of poker. He finally wandered downstairs and recanted his previous night's performance. A few minutes later, Helixx popped in (he got carded!) and within seconds we had four degenerate gamblers drinking at noon in a bar in an Atlantic City casino yapping about all things poker. We could have probably sat there all day and night knocking back cocktails and comfortably discussing our deep passion for gambling and other related interests, but alas, we were in AC to play some poker. The three beers on an empty stomach made me a little tipsy and I needed food. I never like to play serious cards when I'm pounding beers. I'll drive after a few drinks, but I hate playing poker when I'm liquored up. Why is that? I know that my decision making processes are heavily impaired while I'm on the sauce. Just think about the five ugliest women you ever hooked up with... then you'll understand why I need to have a little more self control at the tables. Conjuring up those nasty mental images is enough to rapidly drive a man to the nearest AA meeting.

After a kick ass General Tso's special from Noodles of the World (and thanks to Grubby who graciously picked up the tab... on his birthday I think!) we invaded the downstairs poker room. Within ten minutes we were seated. Helixx was called first for his $2-4 game and then they announced open seating for a new NL table. I bought in the $300 max and sat down ready to play. The blinds were $1 and $2.
The Players:
Seat 1: The kid (had his girlfriend sitting behind him)
Seat 2: The suit
Seat 3: The mechanic (and later Carter)
Seat 4: Al Cant Hang
Seat 5: Grubby
Seat 6: Boston Guy 1
Seat 7: Mrs. Hang
Seat 8: Boston Guy 2
Seat 9: Dr. Pauly
2:38pm EST... Mrs. Hang got dealt AA and KK in the first four hands. She took a huge chip lead early. $15 seemed to be the opening bet.

2:46pm EST... -50. I was in the big blind and saw my first flop and nailed two pair with Q2s. Mrs. Hang on the button had QJ and called all of my flop, turn and my river bets. She caught two pair on the river when a Jack spiked. That was a costly $50 hand.

3:31pm EST... I played my second hand in an hour when I found cowboys in late position and fired out a $30 preflop raise. I had two callers... Al Cant Fold and Grubby. I put Grubby on AK or 10s figuring that he would have come back over the top with any other big hands. I put Al on big suited cards or something like AQ or AJ. The flop: 6xJs9s. I opened up with a $50 bet. Al Cant Limp folded. And Grubby thought for a second and moved all in. That's when I should have folded. I was used to being bullied around by my fellow poker bloggers and the guys at the Blue Parrot. I had $80 already in the pot and $160 left. I foolishly called and of course the Grubster had JJ. He took my $240 in what was a $500+ pot. I was busted in the first hour! I looked at the time. How was going to last until Midnight with just $200 left? I only brought $500 with me out of my thin (Eastern European model-thin) cash bankroll. I wanted to cap out my loses in case I was on a bad run. I didn't want to have to go to the ATM but I pretty much decided that would have to happen if I lost my rebuy. I walked back up to the cage and got $200 in red chips. I took my seat again. Like that old Chinese proverb said, "Fall eight times, get up nine."

4:32pm EST... -320. I raised in MP with KK and got no callers. That was just the third hand I played since I sat down. Grubby's stack of chips led the table. Al Cant Limp was up and down. Mrs. Hang was probably second in chips at the table after she put a whooping on the Boston guys.

4:41pm EST... -265. The suit was a calling station. With AA in the BB and three limpers in the pot, I raised to $50, well over 25% of my stack. The suit called and before the last card was dealt on the all rags flop, I pushed my chips all in. He took his time and for the first time all day, my heart jumped out of my stomach while my breathing intensified. I live for those moments. Some folks jump out of airplanes, others climb misty mountain tops, and some party themselves into frenetic highs. The rare instances in my life when I never felt more alive and in the moment... were at poker tables. At 4:41pm EST... that moment was no different. I'll be chasing that high for many days in the future for sure. My heart was thumping harder than Monica Lewinsky rushing down the street to Krispy Kreme first thing in the morning. Sweat was dripping off my face harder than Patrick Ewing at the free throw line. The suit was staring me down. I couldn't decide if I wanted him to call and chase or fold. He took more time before he peeked at his cards one last time, sighed, then folded. I wish he waited a few more seconds. The rush of adrenaline sobered me up and kept me going for the next day or so.

5:17pm EST... -205. The mechanic in seat 4 next to Al was a loose player who liked to see a lot of flops. I got KK for a third time and threw out a $50 bet preflop. The mechanic called. The flop: AQ6. He checked and I thought about it for a second and checked. I put him on Ax suited and thought he was trying to slow play. On the turn he checked again and I should have fired out, but I checked a second time. On the river my hand did not improve. He checked and I flipped over KK. He lost with 77. Afterwards Grubby gave me some great advice on that hand, suggesting that I should have bet on the flop... to at least get information from the mechanic. That was the correct play but I was worrying two steps ahead thinking... "What if he just calls? Does he have a little ace?" I realized that after losing that monster hand to Grubby, that I slipped into that Passive Pauly phase. I don't play my best poker in that mode. I'm at my best when I'm playing aggressive and fast. Grubby knew that was my style and was wondering why I was playing so timid giving that guy two free cards to catch up to a hand. Shit, I know for a fact that I would have bet the pot online at Party Poker if I was in the same situation, but I was on tilt... I was afraid at losing my chips. I made my second biggest mistake of the session that time, unscathed.

5:29pm EST... -270. I called a preflop raise in LP with AKs. The flop was QJ6. I folded when another 6 fell on the turn.

5:53pm EST... -255. With 88 on the button, I raised driving Al Cant Fold outta the pot when he tried to limp in with the hammer. The flop: 10-7-2. I was heads up with the mechanic again and even with two running Kings on the board, I still took down the pot. He had 67s.

5:57pm EST... -260. I folded AQ to a preflop raise with two callers. Of course K-10-J hit the flop.

5:51pm EST... Al Cant Hang with a shortstack moved all-in in the dark. Grubby took his time before he called with K10s. Al Cant Hang showed his monster... 49o! And yeah, a 9 flopped and Al Cant Limp doubled up.

6:13pm EST... The hand of the day... Al Cant Hang raised in LP with A10. The kid in Seat 1 called with K6s. The flop: K92. The kid bet and Al raised. The kid called. The turn was another rag, but it gave a second club to the board. The kid bet and Al moved all in with nothing but an ace high!! The kid took his time. That's when I put him on a small King. He called with top pair but was worried if Al had him outkicked, or even had paired the board with his kicker. It seemed like a couple of minutes before the kid made up his mind. His girlfriend wasn't there at the time (she had gotten up to got for a smoke or bathroom or boredom break) and he kept staring at the board. He finally called and showed his K6s. He almost jumped out of his seat when Al Cant Limp showed A10s. The guy next to me whispered, "I folded an ace." Al had a flimsy two outs to win. In dramatic fashion an ace fell on the turn followed by the chorus of "Wow!" and "Holy shit!" Grubby's jaw dropped. The kid punched the empty seat his girlfriend had been occupying. He smacked it a second time and then a third. I heard the muffled shout of, "No!" over him trying not to cry at the table. He smacked the chair a fourth time. If his sweetheart had been sitting there, chances are she would have had two black eyes by that point. Al slowly stacked up his chips then left the table which was blanketed in an uncomfortable silence as the kid pulled his shirt up over his face to hide the tears. He was visibly shaken (for the following next forty minutes). The guy next to me made a comment (in jest) that the kid lost all the money he was saving up for his wedding. If true, that would have been fucked up. At the time, I was cracking up on the inside because Al Cant Hang made some kid cry after a vicious bad beat and possibly took all his wedding and honeymoon money! All I could think was two things:
1. Thank God that wasn't me.
2. I can't wait to blog this!
When Al went out for a cigarette, he saw the kid's girlfriend and said something like, "You might wanna check in on your boyfriend, I just put a bad beat on him." Tragically funny, kinda like when a clown dies. Like a vicious storm ripping through a trailer park, Hurricane Al Cant Hang terrorized the poor kid. He was lucky to still have the shirt on his back.

6:33pm EST... -215. Carter joined the table. He had been on a different table and he got a seat change.

6:50pm EST... The Hilton Sisters were flashing me. I raised preflop and Al cold called in the BB. The flop: 8JJ with two clubs. He bet $30 and I called. Did he have the Jack? Would Al Cant Limp smooth call when he flopped trips? When a 4 hit the turn he bet $100 or roughly the size of the pot. Was he on a flush draw? I took my time and went through all the possible hands. I figured he had a AJ or something like that. I folded. The dealer pushed him the pot and he flipped over A7s. I expected the ace, but not the 7! I pounded my fist on the table and in Hellmuthian fashion, I stormed away intoxicated by a haze of ire. Seething? Yep. Irked? You betcha. Did I lose my composure? You would have too. Those damn Hilton Sisters. I didn't want to loose my entire stack to three Jacks again. I should have moved all in against Al and folded against Grubby. I sat down completely embarrassed that I lost my cool in a casino. The dealer never said anything and we moved on to the next hand.

7:14pm EST... Mrs. Hang was knocked out with KK. She flopped two pair and lost to a guy with 33 when he caught a full boat on the turn. He pushed her all in and she eventually called. Mrs. Hang getting busted was a watershed moment ... because ten minutes later she returned to the table with the largest smile I've seen. She hit a $1200 slot win! In ten minutes Mrs. Hang went from down $300 to up $900!! The jackpot was enough to cover Al Cant Limp's poker loses.

7:22pm EST... -350. I limped in a pot with A-10 with four other players. The flop: KQ6. Everyone checked all around. The turn was a Jack which gave me a Broadway straight. I should have moved all in with two spades on the board. I bet $50 and everyone folded except Carter, who I put on a flush draw or two pair. A spade fell on the river and I checked to carter who bet $50. I should have folded, but called. Carter caught runner runner for a flush and I lost another big hand to a blogger. Fellow Bloggers + Spouses 4, Dr. Pauly 0.

8:24pm EST... Karmic revenge fell into the path of Al Cant Hang. The kid bad beated Al and took his entire stack. Al flopped a straight and bet out. The kid called with 67s. He had two pair and caught a full boat on the river to take down Al. Talk about heavy swings, eh? Al was busted and he left the table. I asked him later how many drinks he had during the session because everytime I looked up, a very busty cocktail waitress was handing Al another double SoCo. I think he lost a $20-30 in tips! He told me he gages his drink intake by the number of water bottles he orders. He gets one bottle of water per drink and had "eight or nine" empties underneath his seat.

8:41pm EST... I didn't hear that Carter was playing his last hand. I raised with AQs. He called with AJ and we ended up checking it all the way down to the river. I caught a Queen on the river and that was the last hand I played. I walked away down $325 for the session.

Overall Grubby came out on top netting over $200 (most on the $500 pot he won against me!). Carter only lost $25 (on his last hand to me) and Helixx had a $50 loss at the $2-4 tables. Al Cant Hang and Mrs. H lost their buyins at the table but the big slot win made the trip a profitable adventure. Mrs. H had some meal comps so we grabbed a late night dinner at their diner. Cheeseburgers for me and Grubby! I think Al Cant Hang was eating pancakes. We chatted and rambled on. I got bogged down into an "industry chat" with Grubby and we shared not just poker, but writing as a collective interest. Carter encouraged me to get a full RSS feed so he can read my blogs at work (I think I fixed that... lemme know). I wish I had the chance to play with Helixx especially since we all had a blast a couple of Friday's ago at the micro limit, drunken, blogger convention on Party Poker.

We said our good byes and I drove with Al Cant Hang back to chez Hang. We blasted Led Zeppelin the entire drive home and I eventually had to slow down near Valley Forge Park when I saw all the friggin' deer grazing all over. It was freaky because I could barely see all the deer through the faint moonlight and the low fog. I had this fear that Bambi would sprint out in the middle of the road and I'd slam on the brakes and Al Cant Hang would go flying through the dashboard (he'd be OK of course... a half a bottle of SoCo makes men bulletproof) and we'd be spending the rest of the night explaining to Mrs. Hang why we needed a crowbar and a bucket... to remove the bloody hoof from the front end of my rental car.

Day 1: -325

Next up... the Boathouse Game which is tentatively titled Lewey's Soused Implosion.

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