Monday, August 16, 2004

33 hours of poker and driving.

This weekend I put down the mouse and travelled to Kansas City for some real LIVE poker. I do this around once a month. Luckily I have a friend in KC that hosts a home game once a month and invites me to stay at his house. He plays online using the name KingLucky. He's a degenerate gambler just like me, so after his home game we go to the Casino for some live poker and other games.

I usually leave home around noon and drive for five hours to KingLucky's house. He cooks some food and everyone brings side dishes and desserts. They joke that it's really just Men's bunco night, which I guess it really is. Dealer's choice poker follows, with 6 or 7 players. $.25 max raise usually, but we play Iron Cross for $2 max match and Limit Hold Em or Omaha with $.25/.50 limits. The pots can be decently sized, and a player can Win or Lose $25 - $30 in a night if he plays every hand like a nut. I dropped quite a bit which is unusual for me in this game, but I sold a lot of change to a player that only brought bills, so I think I actually fared okay. Maybe lost less than $10. Last month I cleaned up at the home game, maybe making $20 but got killed for $200 at the Casino. If I had to choose I'd rather lose at KingLucky's and win at the Ameristar. The most notable hand of the night was when I got two pair in my hand in Iron Cross and matched one of the cross cards for a full house, before the hidden cards were even exposed. And the boat didn't hold up. Both other players that stayed in said "I have a bigger boat." One was KingLucky, who was lying, the other wasn't and took the $6 pot.

The home game usually breaks up around Midnight, but this time I had to ask if we could end it because I wanted to head to the casino. Out of the seven original players, one had busted out very early, his last dime going on AA in Texas Hold 'Em. Two more called it a night just after midnight, but the last three wanted to keep playing. KingLucky had a qualifier tournament online at noon, less than 12 hours away and might want to sleep for a couple of hours before then, so we set a time limit of 7am at the Casino. Since we wouldn't get there until 1am even if we quit then, I had to break up the game. I don't like playing 4 handed anyway, you just pass the same $1.50 around the table usually.

For the first time in my life, I walked into the poker room at the Ameristar and got a seat without putting my name on the list. Not only that, but KingLucky and I got to sit at the same table. The reason is the recent poker boom. You'd think that would make it tougher to get a seat, but since Harrahs and The Isle of Capri both opened poker rooms, a lot of the Ameristar regulars are trying out the new digs. But KingLucky has a preferred player status at Ameristar which gets us preferred parking, and gets us into the Players Club that has free food and free drinks after noon. So we stick with the lady that brought us, the only place I have ever played poker in a casino, the Ameristar in Kansas City.

KingLucky and I sit right next to each other, which is more fun. The table seemed immediately fishy, with one whale at the end of the table. I'm not talking about a big money player, I'm talking about a guy that weighed as much as a whale. I feared for the safety of his chair. There was an open seat next to him when I went to sit down, but no way was I getting close to that guy.

I played tight and tried not to raise pre-flop, as it accomplishes nothing in this game except notify the table that you've got a big hand. On the second hand I held K3o on the big blind which hit a King for top pair on the flop, I stupidly held it even though an ace came on the turn and I knew an ace would stay past the flop unassisted. My rationale was that I didn't want to fold to his bet (I checked when the Ace came on the turn) and let them think they could run over me all night. I hit a few good hands soon after that including a Q9s that flushed on the turn. It folded to me on the river so there was no showdown. I had hoped my weak play early would earn me some calls, but apparently I was getting some respect I didn't want.

My best hand of the night was JJ on a kill. I raised pre-flop, because raising $6 pre-flop usually works much better to thin the field at a $3/6 game. Two players stayed with me. The flop was all unders. The turn paired a 3 on the board, and the river brought the third 3, completing my boat. I amazingly got called to the river by both players, so I tripled by $36 investment.

Worst played hand was against KingLucky. We usually don't butt heads much when we play, because if one of us bets against the other it's easy for us to fold. I should have known he had me, but I walked into a bear trap. I held KQs on the big blind and he raised in first position. I called and hit a King on the flop. When I bet and he raised, I thought he was bluffing a JJ or QQ on me, so I called, and we were heads up. I called his turn and river bets and he turned KK . I was kind of happy to pay him because I was way up and it brought him back to even, maybe even up a few dollars.

Strangest hand of the night was my Q10s in early position. I limped in but got raised by a big black guy at the end of the table. He had only been there for a little while, but it seemed like he played a lot of pots he had no business being in. The flop was 6610 and I checked. Blackfish bet $3 and got called by a nice older man across the table from me. I called, but thought to myself "The guy across the table has Ace-Ten, why are you in this pot?" but I already had $6 in the pot and it was only $3 more to see another card. My reward was another 10, and his kicker lost all significance. I checked and Blackfish bet $6. Older man gave me an odd look and raised to $12. I called and Blackfish called too. The final card was a 4 and I bet $6, sending a clear signal to Older Man that I had a boat. Blackfish raised to $12 and Older guy looked at me. I said "There's only four 10's in the deck, right?" and he raised to $18. I thought "no way that guy has sixes" and capped at $24. Blackfish and Older Man called and I turned my 10's full of 6's. Older Man turned his 10's full of 6's and joked "But I have the ace." Nice read by me! We both half-stand to see Blackfish's cards, and he flips over presto. 55? He called a $24 river bet with two pair 10's and 6's with a 5 kicker? The dealer says "10's and 6's with an ace kicker" and starts sliding the chips to Older Man. Even the Older Man said "Woah, I was just kidding about the Ace." It only took the dealer a second to realize it was a split pot and started counting the chips, which were in a pretty big pile after three players nearly capped twice.

I played for almost four hours, ending up +$171 for the session, or 27BB. KingLucky and I played some of his favorite Let It Ride quarter machines and then shot craps until 6am. We ate breakfast at the restaurant and headed for KingLucky's. I slept on his couch for about 3 hours and then watched him play a WPT qualifier with about 2600 players. He played well and finished 52nd, but the tournament was winner take all.

I headed back to Oklahoma just before 4:00pm, and got home before 9:00pm, even without speeding. Door to door in 33 hours, with a lot of poker in between.

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