Tuesday, August 03, 2004


TGC stands for The Gaming Club, and it's my new home. Not permanently, by any means, but until I am done with the latest PSO promotion, it is my home. I bought in for $100 last Wednesday night (or was it Thursday?) with the intention of winning a free Poker Table Top from Poker Source Online.
A pretty simple offer, but I had to go and complicate things. All you have to do is play 600 raked hands and the poker table top is yours. It's a nice piece of poker equipment, wood with felt covering, plastic drink holders and 8 spots for players. It breaks down in half and comes with a carrying case. I have been eyeing them for around $75-85 on eBay and elsewhere. When they announced this promotion, I thought about it and then just bought in on kind of an impulse. I was growing more and more bored with the Intertops Poker freerolls.
I started by playing 7-card stud. Not my best game, not even a game I was good at. My restlessness with Hold 'Em has been alleviated by Omaha Hi/Lo at Intertops and Party Poker, but TGC is a Prima Poker room (Same as Aztec Riches and Royal Vegas but with different colors) and there is no Omaha Hi/Lo, just regular Omaha. The great thing about Omaha Hi/Lo is that a lot of people stay in to see the flop, so the hands are almost always raked. And most of the pots are split, so you can really play a long time with just a little money. Long Play + all raked hands = free poker table, get it?
Well I thought 7 card stud was another good game for raked hands. I was extremely wrong. I went through a lot of cash before I realized every hand made it in just under the raked hand limit. I would have to bet the pots up myself if it were going to make the limit. "No Problem," I thought. "I can bluff a few hands, make some money too." WRONG. Stud players never fold. NEVER. There's always that guy who makes his straight or his invisible flush on the river card. So I was down a lot early on, with very few raked hands.
Raked hands work a lot differently at Prima Poker rooms than they do at Party Poker. At Party, if you are sitting at a table when a hand is dealt, and there is a rake from that hand, it counts as a raked hands. Basically if you can play 100 hands in an hour, 95 of them will be raked hands. Once I was short 120 raked hands to play in an end-of-the-month big money freeroll at Intertops poker. You needed 1500, and I had played 1380 with an hour until the deadline. I opened up 4 tables of no-limit hold em, and had 120 players and won $130 in 30 minutes.
At Prima rooms, you only get credit for a raked hand if you contribute to the rake. Since I am a fairly tight player, I fold most hands pre-flop. So raked hands are very tough to come by. If I can get 10-15 per hour, I am playing very loose. And that is part of the problem. When I am trying to get raked hands, I am more willing to play hands I might normally toss. I play all suited connectors. Probably not a bad adjustment. I'm playing all connectors. If it's not raised, I play almost any cards that reach. I'm pretty much throwing away my pre-flop bets. Then I have to hope and hope that it makes the $5 limit to be raked. Roughly half the hands I limp into and then toss when the flop isn't the miracle 3-card spread I need never make the $5 limit.
It could be worse, there are places that don't count a hand as raked if you don't see the flop. At least when I fold the big or small blind or an early call because of a raise, that usually counts as a raked hand, so long as the raiser gets a call.
So after losing my ass at 7 Card Stud, I tried some 5 Card Stud. Same result, losing my ass. And 5 Stud hands also seem to NEVER get raked.
When I was down below $30 of my initial buy in with less than 50 raked hands out of 600 required, I began to think this promotion was pointless. If I am going to lose $600 trying to win a $75 table, I'd have to be nuts. Yet I know there are people out there doing it. I vowed to not buy in again. This meant only one thing. I was going to have to play Hold Em and Hold Em only, and I was going to have to play well. I know I am capable, it just takes concentration and not letting the raked hands thing affect my game. I had to play for the money and let the hands come naturally.
I went to the $.50/1.00 Pot Limit table. I prefer to play $.25/.50, but the promotion says that you must play $.50/1.00 minimum tables. I was always confused by this, because at limit, the $.50/1.00 refers to the pre-flop and post-turn bets, where in NL/PL it refers to the blinds. Blind wise, a $.25/.50 table would be the same as a $.50/1.00 Limit table. I thought this was unfair, but I knew about it going in and figured I could deal with it.
The problem came when there are a lot fewer $.50/1.00 players at TGC. Tough to get a table. But I found one with enough players to get the raked hands in, and started working. Very tough work, but I worked my way back up to $46 in one evening, and earned another 30 or 40 raked hands.
Then I remembered: When I played at Royal Vegas they had these high dollar freerolls that had ridiculous raked hand requirements. I now am making ridiculous raked hands, I should play in them! I joined the next $3000 freeroll, starting at Midnight Saturday night. It only had 479 people in it, and 300 were gone in the first hour. I played my normal tournament tight tighter tightest, until I was in the money. It started paying 80th place, $3. Once I made the money I eyed the payout list, trying to last until the next highest level. 40th payed $4. That's a lot of players to beat for $1, but I was thinking of my raked hands. $1 means one more raked hand. I tightened down even more, making it to 40 in AMAZING speed. Maybe there are players who just play for the $3, because in 10 minutes we were down to 40. Then 30. Then 20! I was starting to get close to real money.
I was in the top 10 in cash with 11 players left when disaster struck. A player with a smaller stack than me went all in, and I had 88. I foolishly put this ultra-tight player on Ace high and called, along with another player who was all in under the ultra-tighty, who had KK. OOPS! This knocked me down into last place chip wise. I checked the payout schedule and saw that I was in for a $5 payday for 10th place. Oh well, it was free after all. I got Ace crap on the next hand and went all in with my smallest stack. Tighty called me, and I caught an ace to beat him. "Ha," I thought. "I got some of my chips back." Next hand was JQs, and I just called...with 4 other players. "Hmmm...interesting." Flop had 9, 10. I check, someone bets the smallest amount and I called. Flop 8. Jackpot. Three players all in, including mr. tighty. All had 2 pair or worse, and my wheel put me in first place with more than 127,000 chips. Even better, it knocked out two players and guaranteed me $20.
It was 3:30 in the morning by that point, and I went brain dead with a pair of 8s and got crippled, going out 5th, winning $60. I could have just posted and probably taken 2nd for $120, but the $60 put me back over my initial buy in of $100, so I was back in business.
The next day I made an astounding discovery. The $.25/.50 PL tables count toward raked hands! This was big news for me, as I am comfortable with this game.
Now I am at $89 with around 260 raked hands. I feel confident that I can make 600 in the next week or two with leisurely play, and I won't have to re-buy. If I play well, play my game and limit my mistakes, I could even come out ahead.

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