Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Worst Beat You've Ever Taken?

I'd be curious to hear everyone's "bad beat" stories. No matter how much time passes, it seems we cling ot these more than any other stories. I cannot remember a good joke, for the life of me. I can't remember a good campfire scary story, or even my ex-girlfriend's telephone number (talk about a bad beat), but I remember losing my ass at poker.

Tell us about your bad beats here on the Chicago Poker Club blog, or head over to the Chicago Card Club Discussion Forum to share.

The Bad Beat that always comes to mind for me took place at the Flamingo in Las Vegas.

I had sat down at a $1-2 NL Hold 'em table with about $200. There were about 7 or 8 players and I was playing extremely tight. After about 25 minutes, I hadn't played a hand, and look down to find Q-Q while sitting in middle position. Two players folded to the big blind bet of $2, and I raised to 5 times the BB, or $10. One late position player called, the button called, and everyone else folded. There was $33 in the pot.

The flop came 2h 4d 8s. A perfect flop, no flush draw and no real straight draw. The button was an aggressive player with a big stack, so I decided to leave the betting to him. I was first to act and I checked, the first caller checked, and the button bet $20. I check-raised him to $60 with my overpair. The sandwich player folded and the button flat called. I was sure I had him beat. There was $153 in the pot.

The turn was the Js. There were now two spades on the board, and though I didn't think my opponent would have played the way he did on a flush draw, he could have loosely played an As 4s, but I highly doubted it. I couldn't imagine what he had, but I thought pocket nines or tens were most likely. Anything else he would have raised pre-flop (like Jacks or Kings) or folded after my check-raise on the flop (like 10-J or A-K suited, wouldn't he?) If he was playing something foolish, like two unpaired spades, or a suited 9-10 or 10-J, I needed to take away his odds to draw to a flush (about 4-1 against) or inside straight (11-1 against). I bet $100. He called. The pot was $353. I had $30 left.

The river was a Kc. The first overcard. I couldn't imagine he was on the draw. At this point I was sure I was beat, and he rope-a-doped me, or he had foolishly overplayed a smaller pair (including Jacks, which would have made a set on the turn). Odds were that I was beat, but every dollar I had, save for 30, was in the pot. I wasn't going to fold, nor was he. Maybe I should have checked for the possibility of saving my last $30, but I dejectedly threw them into the pot. He called. There was $413 in the pot.

I flipped my Queens. He turned over the two of diamonds and the four of hearts. He had made the two bottom pair, after calling my pre-flop raise with one of the worst 10 starting hands in Hold 'em. He must have put me on two big cards, based on my playing style, and called me down, knowing that I was beaten the whole time.

Four of hearts, two of diamonds. $413 pot.

How about you?

Sunday, August 28, 2005

You Can't Win 'em All

Our friend Paul over at Card Clubs, host of our discussion forum was kind enough to host a Freeroll tournament over at Games Grid Poker for members of the Card Clubs community.

We had 86 players, and a great time. Paul and I went out back to back, with me finishing in 36th place. I have never played in a tournament bigger than 20 players, and now I see the challenge. I was truly card dead the whole tourney, save for the first hand. I had pocket queens, opened for a nice raise, and ended up collecting the blinds. Every pot I won after that was a complete bluff. After that, I didn't get a level 1 or 2 hand for the rest of the game!

As the blinds went up, I began to get increasingly desperate. I floated around my original chip stack size of 1500, until I couldn't really steal anymore. I tried a couple of times, and was successful about 1 in 4, a losing proposition over the long haul. Eventually I had to make a move with a small ace, and was beaten by pocket nines that mad a set on the turn. Oh well, maybe next time.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Trump Trumps Resorts

I went and did it. I played at Trump Casino in Gary, Indiana after complaining about the place and their filthy chips.

I was heading back from Detroit and passed right through Casino alley. Temptation got the better of me, and I stopped at Resorts Casino. I make it sound spur of the moment, but I actually got up at 5:30am (4:30 Chicago time) to give myself a few hours to stop, and still get back to Chicago around lunchtime for some semblance of a workday.

At 9:30 the Resorts room was dead, save for one full table. It was 9:30am, what do you expect? I could wait for a 5-10 limit game, the full table, or wait longer for a NL table to be seated. I'm a decent limit player, but not great... I would guess 5-10 typically has better players than 2-4 or 3-6, so I figured it to be a losing proposition. The no limit table was a $50 min and $200 max buy-in with $5 and $10 blinds. How is the max buy-in 20 big blinds!? That makes no sense.

So, I got back in the car and drove around the bend of Lake Michigan to Trump. 10 minutes after arrival, they seated 5 of us at the first no limit table of the day. I bought in for $200, the max, for a $2/$5 blind structure. That made a little more sense. One guy bought in for $50-80 at time, and did so 5 times in two hours before eventually leaving. Weird.

I played for three hours and had a good session. I'm still thinking about one hand in particular. I was in the cut-off (seat behind the button) with Q-Q. There had been 3 limpers, and the blinds were left to act. I raised to $25, larger than my typical raise, but only by $5 or $10.

I got 4 callers.

I raised 5x the BB; I'd been playing tight for 3 hours; I got 4 callers. So, 5 of us saw the K-8-5 flop. It got checked to me, but with four other players calling $25, someone had to have a king. Also, the button had been quiet, but called my raise so fast I thought his hand was going in with his chips. So I checked. The button checked.

The turn was another King. This might've been a great card for me, but the player to my right bet $50. There was $127 in the pot already, but I felt like the bettor might have a king. He was such a tight player I couldn't imagine he would bluff into 4 opponents. I thought about it for a full minute, then mucked. Everyone folded, and he took it down.

Did I play this hand poorly? In retrospect, I think I did. I definitely should have bet the flop. Had I done so, I may have taken it right down. If not, either the turn bettor would raise me, and I'd know where I was in the hand, or he would bet into me on the turn, and again, I would be more confident of where I stood. I took a super-tight stance, and it may have cost me the pot. What do you think? I'd be interested in your comments.

In the end, it may have been an okay thing. I ended up winning about $300, called it a morning, and went home to get some real work done.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Motor City Casino... Motor City Letdown!

Perhaps this should be a Poker Road Trip blog. I seem to be writing as much about poker in other cities as I do about poker in Chicago. Well, in fairness, there isn't any casino poker in Chicago, so what are you gonna do?

I went to the Motor City Casino in Detroit today, just for a few hours. My grandfather's in the hospital, and after a nice, long visit, my grandmother and I needed a diversion. She navigated and I drove to Motor City - for the last time.

It was a Tuesday afternoon; I was supposed to be at work, or at the least, working. I had an excuse, I figured, and I'd spend tonight catching up. But something struck me, why are the rest of these guys (and they were mostly men) here playing cards? Are they pros? I learned that they probably weren't. Do they work non-traditional business hours? Yeah, probably, I guess. But 2pm on a Tuesday?

Anyway, the gameplay was funky. First, there's no rake, but rather a $6/half hour charge for playing. I've heard of this, sure, but never experienced it. I didn't like it, at all. In part because it made me want to rush my tablemates and myself. Mostly, though, because there were a couple of very loose aggressive players at the table. I had to tighten way up, as they raised almost every hand pre-flop. That meant that there were several half hours where I didn't play a hand. That means $6, plus $5 a round, to watch poker. "Five dollars?", you ask. Yes, they had a funky blind structure. The two players left of the button each posted $2 and the dealer posted $1, for a total of $5 of forced bets. Two or three players liked to straddle when eligible, putting $9 in the pot before it got back to the straddler's all-in. ;)

I was card dead for the entire session. I saw one A-K (diamonds and clubs) and raised $10 pre-flop. A loose agressive player made it $20, and we saw the flop. Q-J-5 two hearts. He bet out $50, about the size of the pot. I believed that he could've come in with A-Q, A-J, K-10, QQ, or JJ based on watching him play for the prior hour. I simply couldn't call off my chips with two overs and a gut-shot straight draw. He had me beat, or at best had the 11 outs to beat my Ace high. The way he had been playing, all of my chips would have to be committed to this hand to see a showdown.

Other than that hand, I got zero pocket pairs, no A-K (suited or otherwise), and no A-Q. If I played Hellmuth's top ten hands, I would've played one hand and lost.

I won one hand all session. I limped in on the (second, ha!) big blind with K-3 off. I flopped two pair and it held up. Then I shed off all of my winnings and another small chunk of change before retiring.

My comment as I left the table: "Well, this isn't happening for me, gentlemen. I guess I need to go find a real job." Chuckles all around.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Chicago Poker Club Shout Out on Lord Admiral Radio!

How cool. Cincinnati Sean, co-host of Card Club on Lord Admiral Radio, gave us a shout out on their show this week. How cool is that?

You'd better start listening, if you're not already. You don't know what you're missing.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Game One: 9-to-1 Odds

Game One of the Chicago Poker Club was a success last night. I don't just say that because I won the whole dang thing, though I did, but because it was a good time for all.

We expected a turnout of 6 or 7 people, and we we were faced with a tough decision when an eleventh player showed up twenty minutes into our tournament. The first player was knocked out about 45 minutes in, and elected not to rebuy. We decided to let our newcomer buy in as though he was the guy who just got knocked out. Not a perfect system, but accommodating nonetheless.

I had a rough start. I tossed in a few too many chips early on a hand that believed myself to be ahead, until the turn. The table was extremely loose early, so protecting top pairs and other made hands was nearly impossible. Several hands later, I was dealt pocket Kings. I raised about 6 times the BB and got 4 callers! The flop came three small cards. The betting came to me after two checks, and I made a big bet, maybe the size of the pot. I got two callers! There were no straight possibilities and no flush possibilities. On the turn, a Jack of the fourth suit. Still a very safe board. I made another large bet, and got one call and one fold. I couldn't imagine what the lone caller had - a set? I believed her to be the loosest player at a very loose table. Even so, I was sure I was beat by two pair or a small set. She didn't raise a single bet. On the river I checked and she checked. She took down the pot with a set of fours.

We were less than a full rotation in and I was already the small stack. For the next 25 minutes I pushed every margin and every decent hand. I was determined to double up twice, or bust out before the re-buy period was over (after the third level of blinds).

With 5 minutes to go in the third level, I found myself with about 60% of my original stack and pocket fours. I made a big raise pre-flop, and got 3 callers. My raises didn't get as much respect at this point, based on my aggressive play over the previous 20 minutes. The flop came 2-3-3. Amazing! I had pocket fours, and had the overpair after the flop. After a bet and call before me, I pushed all in. I knew this was quite risky, but I would accomplish my objective. Either I would double up, or I would bust out and rebuy while I still could. Johnny G called to my left, and the other two players folded. John turned over a 3-x, of course. I was dead to two outs. I think that means I had about a 9% chance of catching my card on the turn or river.

The turn came... a four! The river was a blank, and I doubled up.

From here on out, I feel like I played pretty solidly. I must admit, I got better cards than I usually do, and I pushed them.

In all, the tournament went almost 6 hours, which was too long for the size of group we had. I would like to see an 11 player game finish in 4-4 1/2 hours. We didn't have the luxury of our Tournament Director Software this time, and it usually does a great job of keeping us on a solid schedule. Around 1 am there were still 4 players left. Four tired, cranky players. By 1:10 there were three remaining, and we were all happy to be in the money, but still tired and cranky. By 1:45, it was over, and I was crowned the first Chicago Poker Club champion.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Chicago Poker Club - Game 1

The first official event of the Chicago Poker Club is tonight. Johnny G is hosting a NL Hold 'em game at his home. I expect a smallish turn-out, 6-8 players. I can't wait!

Anyone interested in joining should drop me a line.


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Atlantic City - Borgata, Caesars, and hilarity.

So the trip to Atlantic City this past weekend was a successful one. I had two sessions of Poker.

Friday night Bryan and I went to the Borgata and played for about 4 hours. We waited a full hour for a seat at a $1-2 NL table. When we finally were seated, we stood in line at the cage for maybe 15 minutes. There was one cashier and about 12 people in line, on a Friday night! What's up with that? By the time we got back to the table, Bryan's seat had been given up. Mine was reserved, as my Borgata card was sitting there. Bryan didn't play with a card, and his seat was not locked up. He ended up being given a seat two tables away after waiting for another 5 minutes. The floor management was not impressive.

I had a great night in all, I just about doubled my initial buy-in over this period of time. The players were generally average in ability. There were two guys at the opposite end of the table from me who were very loose aggressive. They donated about $2000 to the table over the course of three hours. They had big wins, but ultimately big losses. They were cocky and dumb.

Bryan had a winning session as well. He reported being way up, but ultimately finishing with a small profit.

Saturday was full of activities for the wedding we attended. It was nice, beautiful actually. You didn't come hear to read that... I digress.

Sunday, I headed to Caesars Palace, on the Boardwalk. I'd played here once before, and really like the room. It is smaller and less busy than Borgata, easy to get a table, and comfortable. The table service is average to good, but the dealers are inconsistent, and mediocre at best. The floor was friendly, but only moderate in their competence.

I arrived at the room around noon, and they were just bringing a bunch of dealers. Presumably their shift started at noon. After putting in my name, I waited for about 15 minutes for the list to fill to 10, and a new table to open with a recently arrived dealer. I was standing next to a woman who looked to be in her early 70s. We got to talking, and she informed me that she came to AC on a bus from her home, about 45 minutes away, elsewhere in NJ. She had never played in a B&M. "I usually play blackjack", she confessed. But, she admitted to playing poker online regularly. It was humorous to me that she was to be the oldest player at our table by at least 20 years, and she was an experienced Internet poker player.

I soon learned that "experienced" was probably not the right word. After about 45 minutes of play, this woman was sitting in middle position. The blinds were $1/$2. The second seat after the BB raised to $10. I folded, the player to my left folded, and the woman said "make it $15". The dealer promptly informed here that her bet was illegal. "It needs to be at least $20, ma'am. You need 5 more dollars". (Technically this was incorrect. The previous raise was $8 - from $2 to $10 - so her raise need to be to at least $18, not $20. This is a common error, it seems.) She seemed a bit confused, and looked at the dealer. The dealer repeated herself, and the woman agreed to toss in another $5. She then remarked, "that's not how we do it on the internet!". I assured myself that she was incorrect about that too, and managed a grin.

Thirty minutes later, a middle position player raised pre-flop and got one caller. The flop came down 4, 5, 6, all clubs. The pre-flop raiser bet out on the flop and turn, and was called. The river went check-check, and the caller showed down a straight. The pre-flop raiser stated, "I was on the bluff. I had pocket aces." The woman of the hour, was two seats and a dealer removed from the comment of the "bluffer". She mis-heard him, and asked "you can't bluff in Vegas?!" The player across from her tried to help, "he said, 'I was bluffing, I had aces.'" She repeated her earlier confused remark. The helper laughed and quipped, "forget it!" She stated, "I'm going to Las Veas next week for a tournament, and I just want to make sure you can bluff". Oh man... I'm gonna find that tournament.

The last event that made me chuckle resulted from a dealer error (one of many). the dealer burned a card, then dealt the three flop cards face down on top of the burn, and spread all four. She had flopped four cards. The players in the hand were furious. Three argued about which card should be burned, the first or last. One player said the whole hand should be re-dealt, which makes no sense. Everyone was angry - everyone, except our friend the old lady. Her suggestion as to what to do with the four cards - "I like them. You can leave them." I thought one of the other players was going to come over the table at her! Eventually the floor came over and indicated that the dealer should reshuffle the four exposed cards into the deck and re-flop.

I won just under a hundred bucks for the session, and then headed to the airport.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Advanced Online Play - Playing the Cards You've Been Dealt

I play PartyPoker and have noticed in the Sit-n-Go single table tournament area both $5/$1 and $10/$1 tables exist. My instinct was to think, "What kind of idiot would play $5 tables for the same buy-in price as $10 tables???" Then it hit me. The exact type of idiot I want to play against. I figure only rookies just bumping up to pay games with weak skills scared to play for big stakes and/or just plain dolts are the types of people that would choose to pay a an equal vig to the house for less potential pay-out. Therefore, the $5 tables may actually be a better investment since there's less competition. If you are willing to accept smaller payouts and a small 50 cent bump in entry fee value, it just might be the smarter investment. The play is probably slower a bit more wreckless due to the novice and idiotic skil levels, but I figure winning $20 in 40 minutes is better than potentially losing $11 in 20 minutes.

Atlantic City, here I come...

Well, I'm off to Atlantic City tomorrow morning. Some close friends are getting married, and I'm looking forward to celebrating with them. We'll also have some good mutual friends in attendance with us, so fun is in the forecast.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot, they have legalized gaming in "AC". Perhaps I'll have to stop by the Boardwalk or the Borgata for a little card playing. I'm looking forward to it. Their rooms are mostly very nice. I played at the Borgata and Caesars a few weeks back, and both had gorgeous poker rooms to rival Las Vegas.

Wouldn't it be nice to have ready access to Poker Tournaments here, like the daily ones at Borgata?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Lord Admiral Poker Podcast

I've taken to listening to the Lord Admiral Radio Poker Podcast on a regular basis. These guys, Cincinatti Sean and Brent Stacks do a pretty nice job of pulling together a 45 minute to hour long show every Sunday.

Typically they'll have a few interviews - Dr. Pauly and the Professor, both Poker writers/bloggers, are the typical fare, but occasionally they land an interview with a "big name" of poker, or they get an interview conducted by one of their friends in the field. There was a great interview with Daniel Negraneau, doing his best Scotty Nguyen impression. Other names we've heard on the show were Bob Ciaffone and Wil Wheaton (of Star Trek TNG fame).

They take some time to respond to emails and talk about particular hands in certain scenarios. They play promos for other shows, sent in by said shows, and they play "station IDs" (that's what we used to call them in broadcast radio, anyway) produced for them and sent in by others.

Most importantly, they like to have a good time, and they don't take themselves too seriously. Check 'em out.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The First Post

Ahh.. The first post. It is always a challenge for it serves to define the style and tone of the blog for posts to come. Well, I think I've already started off on the wrong foot. Hence, no pressure.

I created this blog on a whim. I would love to get poker enthusiasts around Chicago together to talk about - well - Poker in Chicago.

There is nowhere to play legal poker in the city of Chicago, except online. We're not far, less than an hour, from Brick & Mortar card rooms, but I haven't found one worth the drive. I am relegated to hosting an occasional home game. Sometimes the turnout is great, and sometimes I have to beg people to show up.