Thursday, October 31, 2013

Guys and Dolls

What's this?  Two posts in a single week?  Is JT feeling okay?  I feel fine.  It's just that I only get motivated to post when one of two things happen.

1.  I play poker


2.  Somebody pisses me off

As it happens both of those two things happened in the last 24 hours (unrelated to one another).

Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino hosts 3 or 4 no limit hold 'em poker tournaments each week. The structure in these tournaments is awful, but they're a fun and inexpensive diversion.  Depending on the tournament and its buy-in you get either 2,000 or 2,500 chips.  Blinds start at 25-50 and essentially double every 20 minutes.

The Wednesday night tournament started out as a ladies only event, but then ladies would often ask if their husband or boyfriend could play with them.  The fields for the ladies only event were only about 15-20 people which hardly makes it worth it for a $25+5 tournament, so they eventually opened it up to everyone and billed it as the "Guys and Dolls" tournament.  Corny, right?

My usual M.O. for these donkaments is to either bust by the first break or go very deep.  The blinds go up so fast that if you haven't chipped up by that first break you are already in shove or fold mode by level 4. 

On about the second or third hand I limped from UTG+1 with 66. I think 7 people saw the flop of 9-7-9 and it checked all the way around. The turn was another 9.  The blinds checked to me and I decided to donk bet my tiny boat.  I bet 200 into the pot of 350.  The older woman to my immediate left called and everyone else folded. my experience when the 65+ ladies at the table call or bet they usually have the nuts or pretty near to it, so I was none to happy that my only caller was a woman with some cobwebs on the old cooter. I figured she had to have a bigger pair than me for a better boat or maybe even quads.

The river was a jack. I checked and she bet another 200.  I should have gone with my gut instinct and folded, but I couldn't talk myself into laying it down to such a small bet. I called and she shows J-10.  She called my turn bet with just a gut shot and hit one of her 13 outs to beat or tie me.  I guess I'm supposed to be happy that she called my turn bet when I was like a 70-30 favorite in the hand, but I was only disgusted.  I hatched a plan right then to take this old biddy to value town the next time I had any kind of hand.

As it turned out the only time I saw two cards worth playing from then on was on my final hand.  There was one hand where I had Q9 suited in the cutoff, but a tight player made it 500 to go preflop and I didn't feel like putting in almost half my remaining stack with that hand.  It turns out I would have flopped two pair and turned a full house. The original raiser had pocket kings and his only caller flopped a straight with KJ. I would have tripled up had I played that one hand.  It's hard not to be results oriented.

There was one other interesting hand that I wasn't involved in.  I missed the preflop action because I folded my rags early and kind of disengaged.  Things kind of caught my attention when one of the more TAG regulars in seat 10 bet the flop of 4-Q-4 and the even older lady than the one from the first story in seat 1 called.  The turn was a 2 and he bet again and she called.  The river was another Q making the final board 4-Q-4-2-Q.  He shook his head and checked.  She made a very small bet for the size of the flop and he folded pocket 2's face up and said, "That queen counterfeited me."  The old woman showed pocket aces.  He definitely had a full house to her 3 pair and had laid down the winner to a bet that was like 1/15 the actual pot.

On my final hand I shoved my paltry 725 chips in the middle with JJ and got two callers. They both checked the low flop of like 9-6-4.  I knew I was sunk when a king fell on the turn and one of them shoved his whole stack in the middle. He rolled over KQ suited and I headed for the door halfway through level 3 without even uttering a "good luck" or "good game" to anybody at the table.

One other thing about this tournament. Prairie Meadows has on the whole one of the best crew of dealers around. They're generally experienced, fast, efficient, friendly, and accurate.  They rarely make mistakes.  During the recent HPT event they brought in table games dealers to supplement the poker dealer staff.  Most of those table games dealers are mediocre poker dealers at best.  If you had one of them at your table you could expect to get in about half as many hands and expect at least 1 or 2 errors per down.  Players were regularly helping them determine the amount for side pots and preventing them from pushing pots to the wrong player.

Since I only lasted part of 3 levels I only had two dealers.  The first was a regular dealer mechanically he was solid, but he never called out raises or bet amounts.  People were constantly asking him how much it was.  The second dealer that came to our table was a recruited table games dealer.  I thought once the HPT left town we wouldn't have to put up with them anymore, but here he was.

He looked bleary-eyed like he had just woken from a nap.  Somebody asked him how many entrants the tournament wound up with and he kind of angrily said, "I don't know I just got here.  I got called in on my day off."  His very first hand at the table he never reminded the blinds to put out their bets.  Three people to their left had folded when I pointed out to them that they needed to post their blinds.  From there he was just as bad as any of the other table games dealers.

And now for the angry rant portion of today's program.  I've started riding the bus to work.  Several years back I rode the bus to work and I actually really liked it. I can just zone out and listen to some music and even doze a little along the way.  Then my schedule changed and my start time was before the bus route could get me downtown.

I recently discovered that there is a route that runs from the mall near my house to downtown that has a stop right in front of my building.  It gets me here with about 10 minutes to spare.  I drive from my house to the mall and park near where the buses pick up and drop off.  There are two routes that run from the mall.  Most mornings when I arrive in my car both buses are already sitting there waiting for passengers.  Today when I arrived neither bus was there yet.  I checked the clock and saw that it was 5:32.  My bus is supposed to depart at 5:38.

I sat in my car dinking around with my phone listening to the wacky morning radio guys to kill the time. A bus approached the stop, but its sign still read "Bus Garage." Since I wasn't sure if it was my route or the other one I didn't immediately leap from my car.  Finally after a minute or two he changed the sign to display my route info and I got out of the car to walk over to the bus.  To my surprise he shut the doors and started to pull away while I was still 50 feet or so from the bus. I sprinted after him and was able to catch up as he turned out of the bus dropoff area.  He stopped when I knocked on one of the windows.  I checked my phone, saw that the time was only 5:36, and held it up for the driver to see. He just frowned and shrugged at me. to you again when I play poker or get angry. :-)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Heartland Poker Tour (Again)

The Heartland Poker Tour returned to my home base brick and mortar casino, Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino over the past week or so.  I was unable to make it out on any of the days when they were running the super cheap single table satellites, but I wanted to take a stab at winning my way into the main event for cheap. I came agonizingly close to qualifying the last time they were here.

A quick look back at my blog archives shows that I never updated anybody on my attempt to qualify that time around. It's been 6 months, so I don't remember any specific hands except the last one. I bought into an $80 single table satellite. The top two finishers earned their way into a $330+30 qualifier where 1 in 5 players earned a seat in the $1,500+150 main event. 

I placed in the top two in my single table satellite and signed up for the $330+30 event that was starting just an hour or so later. I played patient and made my way through the majority of the way with about an average stack. I only got short as the bubble approached.  Enough players signed up for the tournament that 14 players would get entry into the main and 15th place would pocket about $1,300. It's been too long for me to remember stack sizes, but I remember that I was short enough that I would barely survive another orbit with the current blinds and antes. I shoved from the cutoff with AJ of hearts and the big blind woke up with pocket aces. I think the turn gave me a flush draw to add some sweat for the BB, but it didn't materialize on the river and it was buh-bye JT in 17th place.

So I went out last Friday night and the only qualifiers remaining were single table $330+30 satellites where the top 2 earned seats in the main and a $165+15 tourney where 1 in 10 would earn seats in the main.  I didn't really want to spend the $360 for the single table event, so I decided I would take a shot at the tourney. I arrived at the casino a little before 6:00 PM when I thought the tournament started and discovered it didn't really begin until 8:00.

I decided to jump into a cash game and see if I could reduce the cost of the tournament buy-in through the other poker players. I got seated at a new $1-2 no limit hold 'em table that was just opening. I bought in for $200 and buckled up for the ride. One of the players at my table was a regular in the $2-5 games there and was notorious for his wild style of play. True to form he was raising about 75% of the hands to like $17 preflop and then firing $40-50 continuation bets whether he hit or not. He was calling or raising if he got any part of a flop and was getting lucky, so he quickly doubled his $300 buy in.

About 20 minutes into the session I looked down at the old German Virgin, 99 (nein, nein...get it?), UTG. I still had about $195 of my original $200 buy-in.  Normally I'd make at least a modest raise there to like $8 or $10, but I figured there was a high likelihood Mr. Maniac would enter the pot for a raise, so I limped. Oddly he folded preflop and it limped around with 8 players seeing the flop. The flop was 4-9-10 with two diamonds (neither of my nines were a diamond).

I bet $8 and only got one caller. The turn was another 10. This time I bet out $20 and the only other remaining player popped it to $75 leaving only about $50 behind. I'm not folding a boat there, so I announced all-in and he snap called. Since it was limped around he really could have had any two cards, so I was really hoping not to see something like 10-4. Neither of us revealed our hands right away.

I don't remember the river card except that it was definitely a third diamond which puckered the old pooper a little bit. We both flipped our hands pretty much simultaneously. He had A-10 and he seemed shocked to see that he was beat.  If he hadn't lost about $100 to the maniac already I would have nearly doubled up. As it was I went from about $195 to somewhere around $340.  I wound up cashing out about $360 an hour or so later making my tournament buy-in $20 whole dollars out of my own pocket.

Not much to tell about the tournament.  There was lower turnout for it than I expected with only 27 runners. That meant that two seats were up for grabs with third place getting about $1,000.  I was the most card dead I can ever remember being in a tournament.  I think I saw like two pocket pairs the entire time and only 2-3 hands with two broadway cards.  On the final hand with the blinds at 800-400 with a 100 ante I shoved my stack of about $7,500 from the button with 10-8 of spades. I figured I had pretty good fold equity there and could really use the 1,900 in tournament chips sitting on the felt.

Just my luck the big blind had pocket aces. He called and I never even sniffed anything close to a  draw and that was all she wrote.  I was out in about 20th out of 27.