Thursday, January 29, 2009

Man Down!

This will be my last post.

When I started this little blog last month, I thought it would be cool to have a place to document and discuss the trials and tribulations of my poker life. And between my home games, day trips to casinos, and occasional online session, I certainly have enough material.

However, this blog has quickly become more of a job than a hobby. I'm now doing things specifically for this blog, like going to Greektown last week, which is my least favorite casino in Detroit. I'm also carrying around a notepad to keep track of hands, since I don't have a Blackberry or IPhone.

But I still haven't done my review of Greektown. I know that some bloggers can do their posts at work while sitting in front of their computer. Unfortunately, I don't have that luxury, since I have to walk the streets of Elyria delivering mail.

When I get home from work, I try to motivate myself to sit in front of my laptop and type. But I'm usually distracted by surfing the web, watching TV, or just falling asleep. I'm sure you've noticed that most of the entries are finished a day or two after they're started, and I usually have a post or two to catch up.

To the three or four people who read this regularly, I apologize. I would rather just officially pull the plug, than do a half ass job on my blog and have it die a slow death like many other blogs on the web.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Gambling at Greektown

Since it was one of those 'silly holidays' that only mailmen and government workers have off, I went up to Greektown in Detroit.

I got to the Poker Room at 10:45. There were a ton of people standing around for the 11am tourney (99 entrants). I got on the 1/2 list, and knew I would get a seat after the tourney players leave the cash tables. So I grabbed a pager, and went to play some table games.

After playing Blackjack for about 40 minutes (+$85), the pager went off, and I sat down at a 1/2 table with $200. The table started off as a typical weekday 1/2 session, but that didn't last long. The whole day was long droughts of action, then players go nutso, then another stretch of quiet, and then train wrecks. Throughout the day, there were a couple of action player that sat down, and really got chips moving.

And I was definitely in the middle of it. My stack fluctuated between $150 and almost $900. There were many big pots, and eight of them are described below. Some are sweet plays by me, some are annoying suck-outs, and one is a little donkerific (maybe, I'm still not sure).

When I walked away from the table, I was up $458, which is pretty good day. If two or three River cards were different, I could have shattered my 1/2 record of +$720.

On the way out of the casino, I made my ritualistic donation to the Video Poker gods of $100 into a 9/6 Jacks or Better game. One of these days, they will be grateful for my generosity. Of course it didn't help that the lady next to me hit Quads twice in about five minutes.

Since there are so many hands involving the same players, I'm gonna describe two of them here. I'm not sure of the real names, so these names will do. I'm in Seat #8.

Tony was in Seat #5 when I sat down. He played a lot of pots, but wasn't making many moves. He did overbet hands, even just top pair, when he thought someone else was on a draw.

Frank was an older guy who sat down in Seat #1 about halfway through the session. From the way the dealers were talking to him, he's a higher stakes player who doesn't normally play in a 1/2 game. On the first hand he played, he raised $30 preflop, and show 5 2 when everyone folded. After a while, I figured out that he was playing super LAG to set up an image, and build his stack. Once he got a big stack, he really calmed down by playing better cards and doing more limping and calling.

Hand #1:
Tony raises to $15 in Mid position. I'm the Cutoff with Ah Kc and call. Five players see the Flop of Ac Th 8h. BB leads out for $25. Tony raises to $75. Now I've already seen him overbet just top pair, so I'm putting him on a big A. I 3-bet All-In for $155. The BB calls for just $83. Tony thinks for a bit, and then folds As Js face up. BB turns over Ad 9d, and says that he hopes he can triple up. The BB doesn't hit his three outer on the Turn and River, and I win my first big pot.

Hand #2:
This happens two hands later. Tony straddles for $5. I'm in Mid position with 7d 6d and limp along with a few others. Tony pops it to $20. I call and so do two others. Flop is Ad 6s 4s. Tony bets $25. I'm the only one who calls. He's got a big A, and I can hit one of my cards, or even a flush card for a bluff.

Turn: (Ad 6s 4s) 7h. - Tony goes All-In for $119, since he wants to bet me off my flush draw. Of course I call with two pair. He turns over Ac Qc

River: (Ad 6s 4s 7h) Qh - Nice Hand, Sir.

Hand #3:
I look at 7c 7s in the Hijack. I limp, and six players see a Flop of 7d 5s 4d. I've got top set, but the board sucks. It checks to me and I bet $10. I've learn that there is no point in over-betting, since nobody folds a flush draw on the Flop. I get three callers.

Turn: (7d 5s 4d) 9d - Yuck! It checks to me, and so do I. The player next to me bets $50. He was playing on the other side of the table, and got a seat change next to me. He's been in most of the pots, and playing a lot of garbage. To me, this bet stinks. If he had the flush, wouldn't he have bet smaller ($25-$35). I think I have the best hand.

A few players think about it, but it folds around to me. I insta-push All-In for $119 more. He goes into the tank for a bit, mumbles a few things, and calls. At Greektown, you must turn over your cards for an All-In. He shows 6d 4h for a flopped pair + open-ender and a turned flush draw.

River: (7d 5s 4d 9d) Qh - Whiff!

Hand #4:
I'm UTG+2 with As Jh, and pop it to $7. Five players see the Flop of Js 6s 5h. I bet $20. The player next to me calls. The Button raises All-In to $246 (wtf?). It folds around to me, but I don't fold.

Now this guy hasn't been sitting at the table very long. He has started making some large overbets for no reason, and he hasn't shown any cards yet. Because it's such an overbet, I'm inclined to think that it's some kind of combo draw, like 8s 7s or 7s 5s. And, while I'm pondering my decision, he says, "I'm just looking to go home."

Since I don't think he's got a hand, and I have the As for the redraw, I call. He shows Qh Jd (wtf?). The Turn and River are (Js 6s 5h) Ac Kc, and he misses his three-outer and walks away.

I guess he really did want to go home.

Hand #5:
Older guy in Mid Position raises to $15. I've got 8 8 on the Button, and call. Four players see the Flop of 7 7 5. Frank (UTG) bets $75. He has recently sat down, and started playing crazy. The Old Guy thinks for a bit, and says, "I don't believe you." He calls for less with his remaining chips, $24.

It folds to me. I ask Frank how much he's got total. $93, only $18 behind. I'm not sure if I've got the Older Guy beat, but he has been playing a little loose. But I'm fairly sure that I've got Frank beat. So even if Older Guy wins the Main Pot, I can still profit with the Side Pot.

All-In. Frank puts his last few chips in the pot, and turns over A 5. Older Guy shows K J (wtf?). The Turn and River are (7 7 5) K A, and Frank scoops both pots.

Nice Hand, Sir.

Hand #6:
A new guy sits down at the table who is also slumming it at the 1/2 game. He's playing a little loose and crazy. This hand is his first straddle $5. I'm next to him UTG, and I've got KQ. I decide to call the $5, and if New Guy raises his straddle, I would call.

Four other players call the $5, and New Guy pops it to $45. I call. Two seats away, a younger player goes All-In for $127, and says, "It's time to go home." This I do believe. The Kid was at the table when I sat down, and has been playing fairly tight and quiet. But he just got picked off in a big River bluff a few hands ago. I think he's got a pocket pair, or maybe a suited A, and just wants to gamble.

The New Guy calls the $127, and has $95 left. Now this is an interesting position. I think I'm flipping with the Kid, but have no clue about the New Guy. Since the pot is so big, I decided to gamble, and go All-In.

The Kid has 77. New Guy has AQ. Crap! That's one of the five hands I didn't want to see. New Guy hit an A on the Flop, and scoops a humongous pot.

In hindsight, I don't have a problem with going All-In at the end. I think my mistake was call the straddle raise. I feel the best way to play poker is to do the opposite of the other players. If a player is playing loose, crazy poker, then I should stick with sound, fundamental poker.

I'm fairly sure that calling the big raise UTG with KQ is not sound, fundamental poker.

Hand #7:
I'm the Cutoff with Ac Qs, and raise to my standard $7. Frank (SB) pops it to $26. Me and two others call, and see a flop of Qd Td 7s. Frank checks. Tony bets $26. I want to thin the field, so I raise to $60. Frank cold calls, Tony calls, and everyone else folds.

Turn: (Qd Td 7s) 6c - Frank checks. Tony checks. I think for a minute about what they might have, and bet $100. While Frank folds, Tony insta-calls.

River: (Qd Td 8s 6c) 6h - Tony pushes All-In for $169. My first instinct says he flopped a set of 7s. I think for a bit, some of it outloud, and mention the set. He says, "No it isn't. Look at the size of the pot." Meanwhile, Tony gets up from his chair, puts his coat on, and stands at the table with his hand on his cards, like he's ready to walk away.

So I keep thinking, and realize that I'm wrong. If he flopped a set, he would have re-raised me on the flop after Frank cold called the $60. The pot was certainly large enough for him to shove in at that time. So I say, "I call. I have AQ." He says it's good, tosses his cars into the muck face down, and walks away.

I don't have a clue what he had. If he had KQ or QJ, then why get up to leave? If he had some big combo draw that missed, then why shove All-In, and get ready to leave? He has seen me make some big calls already, so why try to bluff into the huge pot?


Hand #8:
I'm the Button with 8d 6h and limp in. Frank (BB) raises to $12. I call, and five players see the Flop of 8s 7h 5h. Sweet. Top pair with open-ender. UTG, who just recently sat down, bets $20. Two players call before it gets to me.

There are way too many players in this pot, so I raise to $100. It folds around to UTG. He thinks for a while, and goes All-In for $53 more. It folds back to me, and I call. He turns over Kd Kc. Where did those come from? He just limped in, and then called Frank's preflop raise.

The Turn and River are (8s 7h 5h) Ks 3d, and I brick out.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Aggressive Poker is Winning Poker

We had 24 players at my Saturday night tournament.

Very first hand (25/50 Level 1), I get J 4 in the BB. It folds to the blinds, SB calls, and I check. Flop is J 8 4. SB checks. I bet 75. SB check raises to 150. I raise to 450. He calls. Turn is a (J 8 4) 2. He checks, and I bet 600. He calls. River is (J 8 4 2) A. He checks. I think for a moment, and bet 600. He calls, and turns over J 4.

(50/100 Level 2), UTG+1 raises to 450. Cutoff calls. I'm the BB with 9 7. I don't normally call raises with speculative hands in the blinds, but did this time. Flop is J T 8. Sweet! Check. UTG+1 checks. Cutoff bets 600. I call, not wanting to scare off the initial raiser. UTG +1 calls. Turn (J T 8) 8. I bet 1000. UTG+1 folds. Cutoff calls. River (J T 8 8) 3. I bet 1500. Cutoff, who is not big on folding, folds. Drat.

(100/200 Level 4) I'm UTG with 99, and I limp. Five limpers see a flop of Ad 9d 8c. With five players seeing this flop, I don't want to slow play. I bet 600. Folds around to the BB who shoves All-In for 2250. I call, and he flips over A 2. (Yeah, that's how he plays). Turn and River are bricks, and I scoop a nice pot.

After 150/300 Level 5, we've got our first break. I've got 10500 chips. We start with 5k + 3k addon, so I'm in good shape. Last week, I only had 4000 chips at the first break, and won the tourney.

(200/400 Level 6) It folds to my Button, where I've got A J. I raise to my standard 1400. SB moves All-In for 2100 more. BB folds, and I call. He's got A Q. First card out is a Q, and the rest don't help me. Ouch.

(300/600 Level 7) Theo can be a good player when he wants to be. He can also be a loose cannon at times. He just got AA the previous hand, and raises UTG to 1600. One player calls. I'm in the BB with Js 6s, and I've got about 7000. It's been quiet for me since the AJ hand, and I'm starting to get short stacked. I decided to do a squeze play. Theo knows that I'm not gonna make that move without a real hand, and he'll only call with a small range of hands. And, as you know, "Aggressive Poker is Winning Poker."

So I shove All-In for about 7k. Theo insta-shoves All-In, and the other player quickly folds. Crap! He shows AA for the second consective hand. I do flop an open ender (T 9 8), but brick out. I finish the tournament in 13th place.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I DO Remember How to Play This Game

I went up to Motor City on Wednesday. I got to the Poker Room at 8:30 am. There was a 1/2 table and a 2/5 table open. The 1/2 table was full, so I put my name on that list, as well as the 5/10 Omaha H/L list they have every Wednesday. I grabbed a pager, and went to play some table games.

There was no Texas Holdem Bonus tables open, so I sat down at a empty BlackJack table. I used to have a system of betting more when I lost a hand. Some times it worked wonderfully, and other times in ended very quickly. Losing five hands in a row happens a lot more than it should. These days I just buy-in for $300, 12 green chips. I bet $25 each hand. If I'm having a good shoe, then I might push the bet to $30, using the red chips that I win with a BlackJack. When I'm up $200 or more at the end of the shoe, I walk away.

Since I was alone for most of my session, I saw a lot of hands. I got off to a great start. But about halfway through the shoe, things started to cool off. I ended the first shoe down one pink chip (2.50). The second shoe was even better. Halfway into the shoe, I had more than doubled up, so I walked away +$330 after tipping the dealer three pink chips. Sweet, I'm freerolling in the Poker Room.

I headed back to the Poker Room. They said that they had been paging me for 15 minutes. I handed back my inactive pager, and took a seat at the 1/2 table. There was only one player with a big stack (>1000), but I don't know how long he'd been playing.

As usual for a morning game, it was a tight passive table. Lots of limping, and not much raising preflop. There weren't any action players. Just players who were not as tight as the others. The real tight ones are easy to spot. They kept bitching that they don't get any cards.

There was only one hand of interest:

A few limpers when I look down at Jd Js in the BB. I make my standard raise to $7. Five players see a flop of 7d 6c 4d. That is a horrible flop for an overpair, but I need to fire a bet to see where I'm at. $20

UTG calls. Mid position calls. Cutoff, who just sat down, raises to $100. Now this is an easy laydown. Even if the Cutoff just called, I probably would have checked the Turn, since I'm out of position. UTG, an older guy who is very passive, shoves All-In for $19 more. Mid player folds, and Cutoff calls.

Turn: (
7d 6c 4d) Jh
River: (
7d 6c 4d Jh) Jc

Old Guy turns over 7 7 for a full house. Cutoff mucks and says that he flopped a straight.

Why can't I be a donkey, and not be able to fold an overpair like so many players?
My 1/2 session was only about two hours. I was up a little, and down a little, but was down $33 when they called the list for the 5/10 Omaha-8 table.

It's been a long time since I've played any Omaha-8 in a casino, hence the title of this post. It's one of my favorite games, but it is very rare to find a game in this part of the country. Mountaineer will get a 3/6 table sometimes on the weekends. The last time I played it there, half of the players were playing '9-card Bingo'.

I bought in for $300, 30 BB. There were definitely some players who could play this game. Only one player had 'Dead Money' stamped on his forehead.

I got off to a great start. I won many half pots, along with a couple of scoops. I don't have any hands to share, because there are just too many cards to remember. After about two hours, I had realized that I doubled up. I was gonna leave at the end of the orbit, but I lost two pots, so I kept playing.

Of course, I then went brutally card dead. When you go card dead in a NL game, you just fold or maybe limp in late position. It only costs you $3-$7 per orbit. But in Limit games, and especially Omaha, you gotta see Flops, and a few Turns. And that can really drain your chip stack if you keep hitting air.

Finally, after seeing half of my profit vanish, I walk away from the table up $119.

There was some snow forcasted for the afternoon and evening, so I decide to head home early with some profit. On the way to my car, I made my ritualistic donation to the Video Poker gods. It went a little better than usual. I never went above my $100 buy-in, but I did play for a while, and cashed out for $50.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I Hate Silver

I played in a home tournament on Sunday. It was a small game with just two tables. There were only 10k in chips. The level were 20 minutes, but the blinds moved very slow with extra levels added like 125/250. So it played like a deep stack structure.

An important factor of this game is that I didn't have to TD this tournament. I was able to actually focus on poker, instead of running around doing five different things. Another factor is that I doubled up about an hour into the tourney with the nut flush against a smaller flush that we both flopped.

Since I was just able to focus on the table, and had some chips to play with, I actually tried to play some poker, instead of just 'folding to the Final Table'. And I have to admit, I played some damn good poker. I was shifting gears, and doing some actual bluffing.

I did a squeeze play when the blinds were 250/500 with pocket 7s in the SB, making it 2500 to go with a few limpers already in. But a young lady, who limped in middle position, shoved all-in. There was more than enough money in the pot to give me great odds for a coin flip, but it would have hurt my stack too much to lose, so I folded. She showed AK.

Later, I did a Stop-N-Go with 3 3 UTG. I limped in. The next player, who was playing very tight, raised it up, and I was the only caller. The flop came A high. I lead out for 5000, which basically put him all-in. He thought for a bit, and then folded. I showed my 3 3, no set. He said he had J J.

My only 'lucky' hand of the night was against the same player. It was blind vs blind. I limped with Ac 5c. He shoved for about 6 Big Blinds (sorry, I don't remember the exact numbers). Even though I had enough chips to gamble, this was a real loose call. He turns over Ah Jh. The flop was sweet, a club draw with a gutshot. He Turned his J, and I Rivered my flush. He wasn't happy.

I made it to the Final Table with an average stack of about 20k. The Blinds were 600/1200. I kept winning small pots, and chipping up. The only all-in was at the 1k/2k level. The chip leader, whom I've never played with, was on the other side of the table, and raised it to 8k. It folds to me. I'm the SB, and look at AK, so I decide to shove for 22k more. He folded.

By the time we get to the Bubble (4 got paid), I'm the chip leader with almost 70k, but the new guy is right behind me. The Bubble finally pops, and the new guy ends up knocking out the 4th and 3rd place players. It's early in the 2k/4k level, and he got roughly a 3-2 chip lead. The new guy seems fairly tight and solid. I haven't notice that he was making any moves, or any obvious attempts to steal the blinds.

The Heads-Up match didn't start well. I actually was catching some cards. I had flopped trips twice. First I checked to the River, and he folded. Second, I bet on the Flop, and he folded. I had AK, and hit my K, I had QQ once, and JJ twice. The only chips I won with those hands was a double up with one of the JJ. He hit middle pair, and figured I was short stacked enough that he had to call.

After getting back to where I started with the double up, the frustration continued. I know I can out play this guy, but the cards were just not cooperating. Finally, with the last hand of 2500/5K. I make my standard Button raise to 12500 with K 9. He called, and the Flop was 10 9 5. He checked, and I shoved for 38k. He thought for a bit and reluctantly called with K Q, gutshot and two overs. I think this is a terrible call, but I'm thrilled with it, since his K is dead.

Of course, the Q hits the Turn, and the River is a brick. Game over.

I think I prefer to Bubble rather than finishing second. Yes, it is nice to get paid, and second does pay well. But one of the reasons I like tournaments is that somebody wins, and everyone else loses. And to get that close to it, and then BAM! a three-outer says, "Nope, not today, Loser!"

Monday, January 12, 2009

Already Breaking New Year's Resolutions

There was no Saturday night game this week at Dave's. He had some family stuff to do. So I decided to book a room at Mountaineer, and play Saturday night and Sunday.

Of course, we had a little snow storm on Saturday afternoon in the Cleveland area. The snow had stopped by the time I got off work, so I went home and gather up my stuff for the overnighter. The highway was decent on the way to Mountaineer, and it only took 30 minutes longer then the usual two hour trip.

I check-in to the hotel, and take my bag to the room. As I walk back to my car to head over to the Poker Room to play some 2/5, I end up walking through the casino. And somehow I end up at a Texas Hold'em Bonus (THB) table. Since I'm there, I buy-in for $500. The session doesn't go well. After about an hour, I loose my buy-in.

I head over to the Poker Room. Due to the weather, there aren't many table open for a Saturday night. I get the open seat at the only 2/5 table, and buy-in for the $500 max.

Surprising, there were no big stacks on the table. Also, the players were playing tight, although some more than others. There wasn't anyone who I would consider an action player. But there was a lot of preflop raising, between $15-$45. I think only twice during the entire session did my Big Blind not get raised.

Even though I was getting some cards, the session didn't go well. I flopped two sets early on, and won minimal profit. My stack never went above $700. Then I started hitting flops when others hit them harder: top pair vs sets, overpair vs flush, etc. I never lost any monster pots; just a bunch of small ones. I finally go broke with Ac 10c on a 10-high diamond board. The other guy flopped the flush.

The only hand of interest was a hand I was not part of. Since there was 4 players involved after the flop, I'm gonna say the hands in the beginning, even though nobody showed until after the River.
I'm not sure of the pre-flop action, except I folded. Flop: 6c 4h 2c. An older lady (set of 2) bets $20. Player B (Ace flush draw) raises to $90. Player C (set of 4) raises to $200. Player D (set of 6) shoves for $325. Old Lady thinks for a bit, and then folds (impressive). Player B calls the $325. Player C thinks, and then shoves for about $100 more. Player B has everyone covered, and calls. Turn: (6c 4h 2c) Kc - I knew that someone just got very happy. River was a brick, and Player B win a monster cooler hand.

The next morning, I decide to head back to the casino, and see if they have an table of THB open. I figure that another session couldn't go as bad as the night before. It was open, and it went as bad. It was almost a carbon copy of before. I left the table, and Mountaineer with just $60 out of the $1500 I brought with me.

One of my New Year's Poker Resolutions is to not spend (lose) too much money in the 'Pit', and just play with profit from poker. Well, that obviously didn't happen, and I blew the money I won on my last trip to Detroit. I should have gone straight to the Poker Room when I got there, and I should have gone back to the Poker Room when I got up. I'm sure they had some 1/2 tables that played all night long.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Poker Is A Social Game

There are usually two types of home poker games. There is the more serious, usually higher stakes, that people come to play poker and win money. There is also the lower stakes, get drunk and have fun games that players are more interested in socializing than winning money.

Every Thursday night, I play in one of those goof-off social games. It's a .25/.50 NLHE ($20 max). $20 is low buy-in, even for a .25/.50 game. The stack do get a little 'deeper' as the night goes on, but I would like them to raise the max to $40.

There is also a High Hand Jackpot. Every puts $1 each night. It is award to Quads or better that wins a hand. You must use both hole cards, and a pocket pair for Quads. It usually gets hit every couple of weeks for $25-$40. Last summer, it ballooned to over $130 before it finally got hit. I have never won it.

Why do I even bother playing in such a small game? Well, it's only 15 minutes from my home. It runs from 7-11pm, which is great for a working stiff like me. It is definitely a lot of fun to play at. There are so many characters and running jokes. And I made $425 at this game last year.

We average about ten players at this game. Sometime we're up to 15, which is enough for two tables. Sometimes we only get six players.

The level of play is mixed. There are a few good players, who also play in other games. There are others who are stuck on Level 1. Occasionally, someone will show up who isn't sure of the difference between a flush and a straight.

A great example is a guy named Tom, who has been playing in this game for about 18 months. He hasn't shown any signs of improvement, and has shown no interest in improving. He is very good with sports betting, even calling his bookie during the game. But he's still not sure if a straight has four cards or five. He's a guy who can play very fast and loose. A lot of that depends on how much beer he has consumed.

Because of the small buy-in, and the low skill level of the players, my game here is very A-B-C. I wait for cards, and then value bet, value bet, value bet. I will occasionally make some moves and bluffs, but it is very situational and player dependent.

I just bring $40 + $1 for the jackpot, and see what happens. Some weeks I can catch a few cards, and walk out with a nice profit ($156 is my record). Other nights, I have no opportunities, and I just fold, fold, fold.

That's what happened this week. No cards. I only won a few hands, and ended up leaving with my $20 buy-in intact.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Motor City Review

Motor City Hotel & Casino is in Detroit, MI. It is located off of Grand River Rd near I-75.

Poker Room:
The Poker Room is located on the 1st floor. When you walk in from the parking garage, there is an escalator on your left. Take it down to the 1st floor, and walk straight ahead. The Poker Room is on the left, just past a bar.

The Poker Room has 14 tables. It is a separate room from the rest of the casino. The tables and chars are crammed into the space. It's really hard to move around in there.

The rake is $6 max plus $1 for the Bad Beat Jackpot, which is Aces full of Jacks beaten by Quads. Both hold card must be used. Currently, there is a Royal Flush Jackpot. It ranges from $100-$500, depending on how frequently it gets hit.

Games that are spread daily are 1/2 ($200 max), 2/5 ($500 max), 5/10 ($1000 max). They will occasionally get a 5/10 Limit game going. On various days, they spread 10/20 NL, 5/10 Omaha H/L with Kill, and 15/30 Round x Round (Limit Hold'em and Omaha High).

The room is usually packed. On my last visit, I arrived at 9:30am on a Monday. There were three tables of 1/2 and a table of 2/5. It's not uncommon to wait up to two hours for a seat on evenings and weekends. I have to wait at least an hour almost every time I walk in there.

The quality of play is mixed. Detroit is a big city, and they've had poker rooms for almost ten years. There are definitely some quality players who play for a living, or just for a hobby. Of course, there are many action junkies, bullshit artists, and tight grinders who are hoping that the BBJ will fund their retirement accounts.

There are no official comps for poker players. But Motor City was kind enough to put a snack area in the Poker Room. It has a Coke machine, coffee, cookies, chips, and other munchies. Next to the table is a small fridge with sandwiches and fruit salads. There is no charge for any of it, just walk over and grab some.

Motor City does have daily tournaments, usually at 11am & 7pm. The buy-in varies from $65 to $550 on Sundays. I have played in a $120 on a weekday. The structure was terrible, and not worth the money. The Sunday one might be better.

Motor City Casino has all the usual table games, including 4-Card Poker, Mini-Baccarat, Casino War, and Ultimate Texas Hold'em. All of the table games are located on the 2nd floor. The table minimums are usually between $10-$15.

Avoid the video poker. I haven't found one with a good pay table.

There is a buffet and various other eating places. There are in a separate area away from the casino on the 2nd floor, and is a bit of a walk.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Little Heads-Up Action

We had 23 players at our regular Saturday night game. I was completely card dead up to the first break. Even when I tried a little stab at the pot, my timing was terrible. I ended up with just 4000 chip at the first break, half of the starting stack.

But I wasn't too worried about it. My basic strategy for these tournament is "Fold to the Final Table". It doesn't mean that I just wait for Aces, and shove. But I don't make any moves, or force the action. Just wait for my opportunities, and use them. Sometimes they come, and some times they don't.

After the break, starting at 200/400, I doubled up with Queens. Shortly afterwards, I won a race against the same player to eliminate him, 88 vs KQ. I win a few more pots, and make it to the Final Table with an average stack of about 20000.

We got to the Final Table in record time. It was only a level and a half (30 minutes) to go from 18 players to the final nine. Every short stack lost their all-in, and there were two double eliminations.

Since we got to the Final Table so fast, the stacks were a little deeper than usual. An hour into the Final Table, we got to the second break, and there was only one player eliminated. During this time, I went on a sick run of cards. At the break, I had 62500 chips, just over 1/3 of the chips in play. That was the dominant stack eight handed.

When I get a big stack at the Final Table, I don't turn into a steam roller or a bully. I feel that the big stack gives me the luxury of being patient, and choosing my battles. It's not my job to eliminate every player. It is my job to get to heads-up, and then win it.

Of course, I may turn into a bully if the rest of the table starts playing very passive, and waiting for Aces. It all depends on who is at the Final Table. This week, there was a few players who would try to steal blinds, and build their stack, so I just waited for my opportunities.

When the Bubble burst (four players got paid), I was still chip leader, but the stacks had evened out. So I started to step on the gas a little. I did some blind stealing, to maintain my chip lead.

When I got to heads-up, I had a 2-1 chip lead over Data, a long time member of the CPMG. He is a tournament specialist, and a fellow TD. We both respect each others game, and will sometimes ask each other about various situation to get some feedback. We haven't played a heads-up match in about two years, so I was looking forward to this.

However, I was very card dead at the start of the match. He just kept winning small pot after small pot. He eventually tied up the chip count, and then took a 2-1 chip lead. Finally, he pushed All-In preflop. I look at K J, and called. He flips over K 9. The board misses both of us, and I double up to get back into the match.

The chip lead goes back and forth. We are both playing small ball poker, small bets and raises. There aren't any real big pots for a while, until this hand:

2500/5000 Level, 185000 chips in play. I've got the chip lead with about 120k, Data's got about 65k. I limp in the SB with 10 4. Data checks. Flop is Q J 4. He checks. I bet my standard flop bet of 8000. Data calls.

Turn (Q J 4) 2 - Data instantly says All-In for about 48k. I think for a while, and finally push in 10 pink chips (5k each). He says, "If you called with a J, then you deserve to win." He thought I could only call that with top pair (Q). I told him I didn't have a J, and turn over my hand, 3rd pair with 10 kicker. Stunned by my hand, he turned over 4 3, 3rd pair with no kicker.

The River is (Q J 4 2) 7. My 10 kicker plays, and I win the tournament for $300.

Here are the reasons that I made the call:

One of the main differences between Casino Poker and Home Poker is that you play with the same group of players every week in Home games. I've been in the CPMG for three years, and Data has been in longer than that. We've played a lot of hands together at the same tables.

Also, as the TD of this game, if I'm eliminated, I always deal the Final Table from seven players until it ends. I feel that it helps add some class to my games by having a dealer at the Final Table. Also, I get to watch everyone play. I have seen Data at many Final Tables, and a few Heads-Up matches.

When he shoved All-In, my first instinct was "Bullshit!" When he steals blinds, he shoves All-In, instead of just raising, now matter how big his stack is. Also, we've been playing small pot poker for a while. This was the first haymaker that he's thrown post-flop.

He also knows that I'm a patient player. I'm much more likely to fold to a big bet than to call. If he wanted to get paid off with two pair or better, wouldn't it make sense to just keep making value bets?

Of course, this could be a reverse bluff. He could have two paired with the deuce or hit a set, and was bluffing the bluff. Since we've played a lot, it could always be a case of "I know that you know that I know that you know..." There is certainly some higher level thinking in some of the hands that regular players play against each other.

But having the chip lead in this situation was big factor. If I was wrong, I would still have about 50k left. That was enough that I could still rebuild with out having to resort to 'Push-N-Pray' poker.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Can I Get a Seat Change?

When playing in a casino, this is a common question that a player would ask a dealer. Sometimes it is by an older gentleman who would like a better view of the flop. But usually it is by someone who is having a bad run of cards, or is just card dead. They feel that if they just change seats, even if it's just one seat over, then their luck would change. I've always felt this was just a superstition.

Until yesterday.

I went to Mountaineer yesterday, New Year's Day, with one of my poker buddies, Chan. We both work for the Post Office, so it's an off day for us. We arrived about 11:30, and were immediately seated at the same 1/2 table.

I only bought in for the minimum of $75. The weekday poker games at Mountaineer are so passive, there is no reason to put much money on the table. Many players only buy-in for $100. They limp a lot preflop. Post flop is usually small bets, between $10-$20, and when they raise, it's usually just a minimum raise.

I've done this before with success. But yesterday, it didn't go well. I didn't have many cards to play. When I tried to make a move, it failed miserably. If I had a draw, or even AK, I simply whiffed. When my stack got under $25, I added on another $75. Later, those chips vanished, so I rebought for $100.

Conversely, Chan got off to a great start. He won two big pots with AQ. First was with Two Pair vs Two Pair. Second was flopped Straight (K J T) vs Q9. He kept winning some more small pots, and was having a great session.

Of course, my $100 went busto in frustrating fashion. Some old guy sat down to my right, and started playing every hand. I raised ($20) a straddle hand on the Button with A T. He called with 9 5 suited. I shoved for about $65 on a flop of K 8 5. The old geezer called me with Bottom Pair, and I bricked out.

Frustrated after dumping $250 at this table, I went over to the casino and started playing some Texas Hold'em Bonus. I got off to a great start, but then went into a nosedive. I almost went broke, but started making a comeback. About 30 minutes after I sat down, Chan called me and wanted to eat some lunch. I went back to the Poker Room, and we ate at the snack bar.

After lunch, we decided to go back and play more poker. We put our names on the 1/2 list, and in about 15 minutes, we both got seated at one of the nine 1/2 tables they had running. As fate would have it, it was the same table we were just at. And our old seats are empty. I end up in Chan's seat, and he takes my old chair.

Since I'm already in the hole, I buy-in for the full $300. This time is turns out much better. I don't get any big double-ups, but I'm slowly building my stack to near $700 at one point.

Chan is having a terrible time in my cursed chair. He is bleeding chips as fast as I'm collecting them. Most noteworthy was when he flopped Top Two Pair against a flopped Straight.

After he pulls out more money to rebuy, I make a comment about how that seat is bad luck. Then someone else at the table who has been there all day comments, "Yeah, I lost $200 in that seat earlier today."

As soon as a seat opened up, Chan moved two seats to the left. His luck immediately changed. He started winning hands, and building his stack back. He even hit a one-outer to double up.

The Chair sat empty for a while. The table got shorthanded for a bit, and they were talking about breaking the table. That was fine with us, since we were heading home soon. Finally some more players sat down, including an older gentleman in the Chair. It took about three orbits for him to go broke.

We cashed out, and headed home about 8pm. We both lost a few hundred on the day.

Hand #1 - 1/2
I'm in the SB with A5. It's a straddled pot. A few limper, so I just call the $3. Six players see a Flop of 5 4 3. I check. Straddler bets $15. Three players call, including me. I've got Top/Top, but I'm not thrilled with it.

Turn: (5 4 3) A - Interesting card for me. Top Two Pair, but any Deuce made their Straight. I check. BB checks. Straddler bets $20. UTG calls. I decide to just call. Straddler has been somewhat of an action player, so his bets don't carry much strength. BB also calls, which sets off a small alarm with me. Both the UTG and BB players have been playing tight. Having four players go to the River seems odd to me.

River: (5 4 3 A) 9 - I check. BB checks. Straddler bets $70. UTG folds. To me, this smells like a "Go away! I missed." bet. If he had the Straight, then a bet of $30 or maybe $40 would seem more likely. And as I said before, he's an action player, so his range is rather wide.

I just call. BB folds. Straddler says, "One pair". I turn over my two pair, and scoop a sweet pot. The Straddler said that he had 7 7, and BB said he had 8 6 for the Nut Gutshot draw.

Hand #2 - 1/2
In mid position, I look at A8, and decide to do my standard raise to $7. Four players see a flop of A 6 4. It checks to me, and I make my standard c-bet of $15. Only the Button calls.

Turn - (A 6 4) 8 - Cool. The Button is a tight player, so I'm assuming that he's got a bigger A than me. Normally, I would have just checked this, since I'm either way ahead or way behind. But since I think he's got a good kicker, I bet $25. He calls.

River - (A 6 4 8) 2 - How much to bet that he's willing to call with just Top Pair? Let's try $40. He thinks for a bit, and reluctantly calls. I show my Top Two Pair, and he mucks.

I love a good read.

Hand #3 - 1/2
The table is shorthanded with only six players. I'm UTG with JJ, so I make it $7. Chan calls in the SB, and so does the BB.

Flop J 9 8 - Sweet. Chan instantly shoves a large stack of Red chips All-In. BB folds. I just grab my cards, and show him my Top Set. I put them back on the table, and tell the Dealer that I call. Chan doesn't show his hand. He never does. I figure Chan's got some combo of Pair with Straight draw. Q J or T 9 are strong possibilities. I just don't want to see any more Straight cards on the board.

Turn - (J 9 8) 8 - Awesome, the board paired. I've now got Top Boat. But when the 8 hit the board, Chan got out of his chair, and started shouting, "Jack! Jack! Come on, Jack!"

Why does he want to see a Jack on the River? Because of Mountaineer's new Bad Beat Jackpot, which was at $32000. You need Quad 6's beaten in order to win it.

Why does he care about the Bad Beat Jackpot? Because he's got 88. Yes, we both flopped a Set, and then he hit a fucking one-outer on me.

Of course, the miracle card doesn't come. Somebody later said they think they folded it. Chan's got $126 in his stack, so I ship him 5 Green and one White chip.

That pot was about $270. Had he not hit is one-outer, it would have made up most of losses for the day.