Saturday, January 27, 2007


Often, an AC trip happens when you least expect it. I arrived at my friend Grant's apartment in Philadelphia Wednesday afternoon expecting to hang out for a few hours and then continue my trip south. My friend Rob was also there, and after about one bowl, "Let's go to AC." I got really into the idea and pretty soon, we were on our way.

The drive is about an hour each way, and we planned to stay for about 4 hours, depending on how we were doing/feeling. In terms of feeling, I was questionable due to what was either a nasty 2 day hangover or a highly coincidental 2 day illness. But I was on Tylenol and feeling good, so we were on our way.

We arrived at Borgata at around 7(all times approximate). The poker room was crowded and there was an estimated hour wait to sit. There was some kind of World Poker Tour event going on. So we went to the Trop, where there was open seating. I sat down at a table and immediately knew it wasn't going to be a fun session. I felt awful and pills weren't helping. I planned to play a low energy, conservative game. Aside from this, the guy sitting next to me on the right was about 60, had a huge pot belly, and smelled as if he hadn't brushed his teeth in several days. We had one of those energetic "personality" dealers, and somehow something she said led my neighbor to say something that resembled "I like to be spanked." I gave him a look of horror, and he's like "I'm not ashamed" or something annoying like that. The ensuing table conversation took the tone of "This kid is really prude." Sorry, but I just couldn't get past "Smelly old guy likes to be spanked." Yuck!

One notable hand happened at this table. Smelly Old Guy raised to 17 and I called with KK, 2 other callers. Flop was QT4 with 2 diamonds. SOG bet out 17 again, I raised to 45, he went all in for 500. I had 310 in front of me to call. His play screamed of a big draw, like KJd or something similar. At the same time, he had made it 17 preflop, he didn't seem all that reckless, and I had been playing pretty tight, and I knew relatively little about how he played. Et cetera...I folded, he showed QQ. A few hands later, I decided I was too sick to play and set out to convince Grant and Rob to leave. It was only about 9, and they were drinking and having a good time, enjoying the fact that I was there to DD. I wandered for a bit and eventually went to the car to nap. I'm not sure I actually got any sleep, but at around 11, I was awake and I felt pretty good. I sat down at a new table with 300. My table was not exactly high in action. The cast of players distinctly lacked aggression. They were a mix of tight-bad and tight-okay players. I actually prefer tables like this, since it allows me a wide array of moves and faces me with very few tough decisions. Creative and tricky players do creative and tricky things, which lead to tough decisions. Tight players just sit there and wait for the nuts. They'll fold f0r a while, thinking that when they get the nuts, I'll pay them off. But I won't. Twenty minutes in, who sits down at my table but Smelly Old Guy? I was way down in seat 8, he sat in seat 5. Not surprisingly, within 10 minutes, the players in seats 4 and 6 had left the table.

I found myself playing pretty aggressively, running the table. A really important part of aggressive play is the continuation bet. It is a followup show of aggression after an initial one, which players often do regardless of whether their hand is still strong. For example, you raise preflop with AK, then miss the flop. You'll still often bet the flop, because people will usually fold if they missed the flop also. When to c-bet and when not to is often a tough decision, especially in a game like this, where 4 players see the flop with you. It's almost never correct to c-bet(without a hand) against 4 players. At this table, however, the players were so easy to read that I could tell whether they would fold just by looking at them. I used this to time and execute my c-bets much more effectively than I would otherwise be able to. This was a huge boon to my profit margin.

Central to my c-bet strategy was Smelly Old Guy. He liked to see a lot of flops, and if he called the blind, he would almost always call my raise as well. He was also stubborn. He'd often call my flop c-bet. This led to the really interesting decision of what to do on the turn. In most cases, one gives up-checks and folds. I noticed from situations where I had a real hand that SOG might call the flop, but he didn't like to call down. He'd usually fold on the turn. Against him, I c-bet the turn and river also. Obviously, as I said, I had reads to back up what I was doing. To continue betting haphazardly would just be reckless. It all leads up to the following hand, which in hindsight I believe I misplayed. It took me like 3 days of thought to come to this conclusion, so I'm not about to say that it was a careless mistake that I shouldn't have made. It's just a lesson. I had Q7h and I was seeing a lot of flops, since I was pretty invincible at that table. 7 players saw the flop for $2, T84h. I flopped the flush. I bet 10, SOG called. Turn 3, SOG checks, I bet 30, he raises to 100. I'm like, uh oh...nuts? A very important idea in poker is to not go broke in unraised pots. We saw the flop in a $15 would be silly to lose 500 playing that pot, right? Right.

Back to the action. I have a Q-hi flush, so I am certainly not folding. To reraise might make him fold a lot of inferior hands, but won't get rid of the hands I'm actually afraid of. I generally don't like this option. I just call, river is a blank 6. SOG bets out 100. I just call and ask "how high?" He says he doesn't have a flush, I go "Cool. I do." He shows 33, with the 3h. Obviously his call on the flop was silly and costly. My call was far from a crying one...I thought he had a flush, but with the queen, mine could easily be best.

The argument in favor of my play is this. I had been running over this guy all night and he was just taking it. It's easy to imagine that he was waiting for his chance to fight back. I tend to respect this sort of bet. Another argument is the unraised pot. Considering that it was such a small pot, I got excellent value for my hand. I really thought he had the nuts and didn't want to put my whole stack on the line.

Here is why I should have raised. I'm talking about raising to 200 or 250. For starters, my whole stack isn't on the line because I don't have to call the reraise. People only reraise that bet with the nuts. I've been bullying him and he knows it. That makes his range of hands wider than normal, meaning he could have a wider range of hands and play them more aggressively. The final piece of the puzzle is the hand from the first table, where I saw him play the nuts. He didn't slowplay at all. He horribly overplayed them. Granted, I was playing very very differently. At the first table, I was a sick, quiet shell of myself. At this table, I was Negreanu-esqe. The point is that his 100 bet was very very different from his all in bet from earlier, and that first hand is a basis for comparison I should have used to get an extra 150. It's very hard to add up all of these things in the heat of the moment. I have to get better at it if I want to be the great player I think I am.

My friends were ready to leave by this point, and my only question before I would also be ready was-will SOG go on tilt? He won a pot off Rob shortly after, unfortunately, and didn't seem to be on tilt, so I cashed out. I was up 410 on that table, 10 on the first, so +420 for the trip.

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