Friday, January 04, 2013

One Bud Light and a Hefty Dose of Other People's Money, Please

The title of this post is what I commented when I checked in at the Prairie Meadows Poker Room on Foursquare for a 1/2 NL session on 12/21. Little could I have even imagined at the time...

I barely even got out & went that night. My wife had taken the kids and escaped a night early for an out of town family Christmas the next day. She had suggested I use the time to go play poker. But we'd gotten 12" of snow the day before and the roads were still as bad as I'd ever seen, I had stayed at work late on a Friday and even worked out afterward, gotten a haircut, and as of that point had done basically zero Christmas shopping for my lovely wife who deserved the world, which this Friday night on my own could've been perfect for. Plus, I was plenty tired, and a nice 10 hours of kid-free sleep would've done a body good.

But, like a true degenerate who hadn't played live casino poker in almost 9 months, I hopped in the truck at 8:00 and guzzled a 16 oz Red Bull as I made my way over the treacherously icy highway to the casino. After all, my wife had specifically told me I should go play poker. I'd hate to let her down.

It would turn out to be one of my best decisions of 2012. One other of which is also a poker decision dutifully captured in my last post.

Unfortunately for this poker blog, the narrative surrounding the actual hands at the table pales in comparison to that of me getting to & from the casino. I immersed myself in the playing, but blogging was the last thing on my mind as I sat in the casino for the first time since April Fools Day.

For the most part, I was a card rack. I made flushes, I made sets, and my aces held up. But I also can take a lot of pride away from well-timed aggression & play of opponents, position play, extracting max value, and one particular moment of testicular fortitude (AKA hero call).

I won a $190 pot playing 49s. I had gotten the hand twice prior & wanted to play it both times in honor of my good buddy Josh, for whom the 49 is a sentimental favorite. After adding some depth to my $120 buyin, I finally chose to limp with it in late position, I then was forced to call a little raise from the big blind, who was a pretty staunch, though non-threatening regular. I flopped a 4 and called a bet because A) it wasn't that big and B) I'd already come this far, why not take another card? The 4 on the turn was yahtzee and pivoted me from the fish to the shark role. I "begrudgingly" called another bet on the turn, then raised him on the river & got paid off. He didn't show, and the table was really on alert after that hand. Hello table image!

I won all hands I showed down except one. I had the dummy end of the straight, and was a little too deep into the Bud Light at that point in the night to realize I was quite simply beat. But I think I only lost like $60 on the hand, so it wasn't the end of the world.

At any rate, that little 49 showdown prompted payoff after payoff when I showed down the nuts most of the time the rest of the night. I stacked a guy with a set of Qs, I stacked the same guy w/a set of 7s, and I dinged him good in another pot where I slow played aces and called him down all the way when there was no way he had me beat. He was actually the reason I stayed 3 hours later than I wanted to, because after his 5th buyin he had actually accumulated some chips, so I was hoping to be the beneficiary of some of them one last time before I left. Anyway, continuing with my good fortune, somewhere along the way I made the nut flush for a nice pot, and for once in my life, I gambled and won.

I had JQd and I think called a small raise in late position to come along. Although that doesn't seem like me, so maybe not. In the end, it doesn't matter what went in wen, because after a 2 diamond flop, w/the Ad there was a bet of 20, a call of 20, I raised it to 70ish, an all-in, another all-in, and after stewing on it forever, I called, covering both stacks. Now, some may consider this an easy call, and some may consider it a dumb call, but regardless, this is a play I never make. I never consider this situation in a truly isolated poker fashion like I should. I had earned myself a nice stack, I was getting close to the time I wanted to leave, and if I called & lost, I'm pretty well back to square one. But this time, for whatever reason, I decided to make the big play. And it paid off to the tune of $500. The dealer peeled off the heart right on the turn, and my 2nd nut flush was good enough to ship it. As it turns out, I was up against another smaller flush draw and an open-ended straight-flush draw, with someone else claiming to have folded hearts, so we were drawing super slim to that flush, and in any case, my Q-high might have taken it on a board that nobody paired. Wow.

In one other hand I remember, I again limped AA, hoping for the preflop check-raise. No such opportunity, and I called incremental bets on every street from one of the blinds, who was a savvy player, but I just had a feeling he was getting squirrelly with me. Right on time, he put me to the test on the river with a $100 bet, but the K-high, flush & straight free board was so clean that he had to either have 2 pair, a set, or nothing. And I kind of threw out two pair right away because it felt like a set or nothing. I stewed on the river bet for quite some time, again in a situation where I feel like most of the time if I call, I lose to a garbage two pair or obvious set, and if I fold, they needle me w/the shown bluff, and just went back over the hand, his mannerisms, his disposition after the bet, and what I'd seen him do at the table, and I made the hero call, and got the "good call" with the muck.


Here was the peak of the night, when I should've packed it in & headed home, but was salivating over the table ATM's chips, and ended up dicking off about $100 of it before all was said & done.

When it got to be about 3 AM, 3 hours past when I told myself I'd leave, 4 hours before I needed to be up, and it was apparent my heater was behind me and things only stood to go downhill for me, I walked away with an $1100 profit, besting my previous best cash game win by $350 or $450, which must've come before I started tracking my play in 2008 cuz I can't find record of it. I just remember I either left w/$750 including buyin, or had $750 profit.

Then, on my way home, where the roads were much worse traveling than the direction *to* the casino, I got to call 911 after I saw an SUV roll it's way down an overpass/on-ramp embankment. Felt lucky to be home & in bed for my 3 hours of sleep.

At any rate, while I admittedly had a card rack kind of night, I feel like I earned some extra profit based on table image, well-timed aggression, good reads, position play, and strong situation analysis & focus. I know I can't expect to win $1100 every time I play, but by no means do I think it was a fluke.

And to think, I almost didn't go. But you'd better believe my wife got showered with gifts on Christmas. :-)

2012 was certainly a breakthrough profit year between my tournament win and epic cash game success, not to mention some consistent pocket change from my monthly game. My confidence is high, as I'm making a lot more good decisions than bad, and having a lot of "You know what? I might be good at this." moments. With the kids getting older and more manageable, I hope to be able to play a little more in 2013, and have had our April patronage to the WSOP Council Bluffs on the radar for several weeks now. I'm planning my first attempt at legitimate WSOP hardware, but worst case it'll be valuable experience and good times with friends.
No matter what the case, I'm just going to keep my level of focus high, and hope that I can continue to build that bankroll toward the next set of goals. WSOP debut in 2014?? You never know...