Sunday, December 20, 2009

Saturday night poker

So I'm in Las Vegas right now with the family for two days, but I actually got here on Saturday because I changed my flight so that I could avoid airport hassle and drama due to the East Coast snow storm.

And since I got a nice cash bonus from work, I decided to take $200 of it to the Mandalay Bay poker room to see how long my single buy-in would last.

My only real cash table experience has been at our monthly home games in Harlem where I've slowly been getting better at getting a feel of when to play and when not to play. The buy in is at $20 and the blinds are at 5 cents and 10 cents, so spending $200 at a $1/$2 table is a big leap upwards.

The poker gods were kind to me and gave me some good hands that I played decently. The table was fun, too, with not just a Crazy Asian Man at the far end of the table who played super-aggressively, but a Crazy Asian Couple who sadly had to leave because they wanted more action at the Venetian.

The guy to my left was this real nice guy named Doug who refused to tell me what he did for a living because, as he claimed, I would never believe him. Unfortunately, I never got to find out what it was he did, but the way he was acting and dressed, I either put him as a high-powered exec who was slumming or someone else who was famous. After half a tiny bottle of water, I started almost matching him beer for beer and that may have lead to my ultimate downfall.

After straddling the table twice and being paid off well, I thought I had the best hand and the board beat (but I forget what I had, maybe two pair). The guy to my right who looked like someone I knew from NYC but wasn't and I were heads-up, in for a lot, and pot-committed. He had a flush draw, I improved on the turn, and then he totally sucked out on the river when the last heart came. There went a lot of my stack.

I ended up spewing the rest of my chips to Doug in the very next hand when I thought I had top pair but he beat me with something else. He was a real gentleman and said that he really didn't want to take my money, but I was a lady and said, "Hey, it's just poker, and it's okay." Yeah, I was on tilt, but I put on a smile, waved everyone farewell, and then donked off $5 at the penny slots just to even out a bit before catching a cab back to my hotel.

However, in total, I played for 4 hours on $200, made great calls, joked around with people at the table, saw great hands come my way (boats and one non-flushed straight that was on a straddle, I believe), and feel much better about myself as a player.

Now, if I can only learn how to play "Race for the Galaxy"...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

1 girl, 2 bust-outs

Played poker at Doc's again last night and busted out two players who were almost full of their buy-in close to midnight.

First bust, I found pocket rockets and let Joaq lead the bidding after the flop which showed something like Q-Jo-x. He went all-in with about $17 or so would have busted me out (I think because at that point, I was too tired to see exactly how much I had left). I was close to the point at which I almost wanted to go home anyway because I wasn't feeling as well about my play as I did last week because I was already out one buy-in and had re-bought for $25. I had him on two pair, but again, since I was tired and had rockets, I called.

I even asked around and was gratified when Vin said he'd walk me to the subway if I busted out, so at least I knew I would be okay getting home. We reveal all the cards, and nothing pairs on the board, so I'm feeling a little better but am now thinking he's got the pairs of the third card on the flop which I can't recall. When he reveals his A(?)-Q, almost everyone at the table thinks we heard him say "Top pair" and I swear, I had to look twice to see that he wasn't holding Q-J. I flip over my rockets, and it turns out that after shipping me his chips, he is near-felted, so he donated the rest of his chips to the pot and left.

We dissected that hand and the play for quite some time afterward because I really felt sick about it since I know he's been running not so well for a while at the tables. One thing that Doc said was that I have to learn to be okay with handing out bad beats to friends if I'm going to keep playing with them.

A little later, I find pocket 6s and since I have the cash to play, I figure that I'll join the pot to see the flop. Flop comes out 6-6-x and I am over the freaking moon. Flopping quad sixes! I have not had a hand like that... well almost ever. Jersey leads the aggressive betting as the turn and river come and I follow his lead, letting him think he's beating me up. However, again, my brain is so fuzzy that I can't remember if a full house beats quads and I'm nervous going in. At the river, Jersey goes all-in and I insta-call. I think at this point, Doc pauses play for a bit because he can tell that things are going to go sour, but Jersey's already standing up, ready to rake. Scott shows his cards (which I can't recall at all but do give him a full house) and then when asked, I turn over my cards, saying that I have a pair of sixes.

That busts him out, and he leaves quickly as well, and we dissect that hand and that play afterward for a while, too. The rest of the game really does go by in a blur except for the very last hand where we all limp in, check to the river, and the board beats all of us for a 4-way split pot. That was our signal that it was time to get the hell out of there and once again, the game broke after 12 hours at 6 am.

Even though I'm tired, my back hurts a little, and I am about to start working on a project for my boss that has to get done before tomorrow morning (which I would have gone to the office to do had Joaq cracked my aces), I can't help but love the fact that I am getting better at playing poker (came home with $30 over my buy-ins, but I need to work on not overplaying my bluffs) and that I might even be ready for a small run at a 2/4 Limit table in Vegas in a few weeks.

Now all I have to do is actually find the time in the schedule to play...