Archive Jul 2007: Southeastern US Poker

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7/20/07 Tunica Trip report

To start this trip report off, I’d like to say that I love going to Tunica, it’s such an awesome place. The food is awesome and the poker action is hot. If you can find time to visit Tunica, you should go, but be prepared for some tough poker playing.

The Gold Strike

It’s about a 4.5hr drive to Tunica, MS from where we’re at, which isn’t really that bad when you’re going to stay more than two nights. The drive back does suck though, especially since all there is to see are farms and water towers to keep you awake after two long nights of poker playing. We left early and arrived at the Gold Strike casino for check in around 1pm and didn’t waste anytime getting to the card room floor. I was really card dead for about 5 hours and basically just limped a lot and folded on the missed flops. With 5 people seeing the flop I wasn’t about to run a big bluff, though I did try one on the button when a few people had limped in and I fired a $15 raise and got heads up. The flop was AQx w/ 2 clubs and I held the Q4. This old man checks to me, and I CB $20 into the pot and he calls. I immediately put him on a draw because of how he called quickly, but I still fired again when the 4 fell on the turn. He ck-raised me and I dumped my 2 pair!!! B-U-I-C-K!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, I bled down w/ small pairs and suited connectors until I’m down about $200 total. I’ve made a seat change so that I am sitting right beside my main man BJJIII; we talk a lot at the table to stir up the old guys. A young LAG sits down at the table and immediately starts to raise every hand and the comfortable loose-passive table becomes a circus sideshow, especially after the old men at the table start 3 betting him pre-flop. I look over to BJJIII and point out that the table conditions have changed and that we probably need to tighten up a little and he agreed. The table becomes a big bluff festival with the old men firing out at any sign of weakness and they are firing on every street when checked to. The young guy is calling them down w/ 2nd pairs and top pair no kicker but they do it right back to him. He actually goes busto soon but leaves his casino card under the rail to hold his seat. While he’s gone one of the old men raises my BB from late MP to $13. I picked up AKo and smooth-called in order to not reveal the strength of my hand. The flop is so beautiful, AK4 rainbow and I feed the old man some rope and the EP player checks as well. The pre-flop raiser bets $20 and I insta-call trying to rep some sort of draw and the EP player folds. The turn brings an off suit J and I decide to let the old man hang himself with the rope that I had fed him last street. He bets out $30 and I push my chips in like I’m tired of getting run over and he calls as if the pot is gonna get away from him if he doesn’t hurry. I flip my hand up triumphantly and he just shrivels in his chair. The King on the river nails the coffin shut and I am back to even for the night. BJJIII and I are quoting some KGB like a couple of mad Russians, “CHECK, CHECK, CHECK!!!! This son of b___, he trapped me!”

BJJIII hits a tough beat after he had just gotten to even and calls it a night. I decide that it was too easy to make a hand against these guys and get paid off, so I stayed. I move directly in front of the dealer and some redneck moron moves into the seat to my right with the young LAG now back in the 4 seat. The game gets worse and every hand at this $1-3 NL game costs $20 to 25 to see the flop. I see a few flops over the course of an hour or two, but eventually decide to get up and get some rest. I dropped $97 on the 10-hour session due to the expensive cost of seeing flops just to miss them completely and fold to the over-sized flop bets. I swear that suited connectors are a complete waste of money, even when you call w/ them in position behind 2 callers.

We get some decent sleep but my body clock wakes me up around 5am and it refuses to let me go back to sleep. I take a shower and slip out of the door around 8am as BJ is waking up. The Strike has 1 table going for $1/2NL, but it’s full and looks pretty rocky, so I walk over to the Horseshoe to see what’s going on over there. There’s a $5/10NL game going as well as a $20/40 Limit HE game, neither of which interest me at all right now except maybe as being a spectator. BJ meets me back at the Strike and we’re on the list. We had planned on playing the $200+30 NLHE $10k guaranteed freeze-out at the Shoe at noon, but some friends of ours who are playing professionally advise us that the Sam’s Town $100+30 freeze-out w/ $3,000 added is much juicer and has a great structure. That tourney started at 11am so we get about 3 hours in at the Strike before it’s time to head out. The only real hand I played was AK on the button; I made it $12 to go preflop and got called in 4 spots. (yuck!!) The flop is Jack high and everyone checks to me and I’m smart enough not to CB into that many people. The turn brings a K, which appears to be good news until an old man donks $20 into me. I make it $50 and he smooth-calls bringing us into a heads-up pot. The river is a blank and he leads for $50. This smelled really fishy, so after about 45 seconds of deliberation I decided to lay it down figuring that he had to be pretty strong to call my turn raise then lead out into me. We get up and head to Sam’s Town and I’m down $72 on the short session. Ray from the Strike goes out of his way to hook us each up w/ a comp for the food court and we swing back into the hotel room to wake up the degenerate internet pros that met up w/ us the night before. Those guys play a tough game of poker and were the ones that told us about the Sam’s Town tourney. Ben went to high school w/ BJ and the other guy is one of his running buddies.

Sam's Town tourney

We fly into Sam's Town casino 5 minutes before the tourney starts. The bar area next to the card room is full but not packed, and we are quickly able to sign up for the tourney. There don’t appear to be many cash tables going currently, so I assume that most everyone standing around is here for the tourney, which is great--tourney donks suck at cash games! 128 people fork up the $130 for the tourney and we’re off. Luckily Ben is assigned to my immediate right and we talk the first level away as we wait for the blinds to go up so that we can take advantage of the locals when they don’t adjust to the changing structure. I don’t even get to play any decent hands at this table before it is broken up and I’m assigned to what would end up being the final table.

I sit down in the 1 seat (which I hate) and notice the player directly in front of the dealer looks like a ramrod got shoved down his spine and he can’t bend his neck. His eyes are as big as saucers and he refuses to bend his neck to look down at the actions of the player on his right. Sure enough, the button player raises and Mr. Ram Rod re-raises him from the SB FTW. I think, wow, this should be easy. I fold around to my blinds and complete the SB w/ K6o. The flop comes King high and a little on the drawy side I so put out a ½ pot feeler bet to see where I’m at. I get called by an old man who is obviously drawing, so I stuff it in on him when a relatively safe off-suit Jack hits the turn. I take it down and have ~6k from my 4k starting stack.

In the last level before the antes start, I decide to make a move to pick up the blinds from the hijack. A new player has sat down behind me in the CO and has a semi-large stack for this point of the tourney. The blinds are 100-200 and I make it 600 to go from the hijack w/ the QJ, the new player calls me as well as Mr. Ramrod in the BB. The flop is okay for me, JT8 w/ 2 spades. I put 1500 into the 1900 pot and get called in both spots. The turn is a total brick and the BB checks to me once again. I think long and hard about what they might have, Mr. Ram Rod is relatively loose and I think I have the best hand here with a gut-shot ta-boot, so I stuff it for 3,300. The new guy folds and the Ramrod eventually calls with pocket 9s after much deliberation. The river is a 7 completing his open-ender and I’m on life support. I actually sextuple my 175 in chips w/ KJo but fade out after the break when I stuff A6 in from EP.

On to the cash games

I’m the first one out of the tourney of my three friends, but the cash game was sure looking juicy. Sam’s Town gets an A+ in customer service as the lovely young lady seating players actually walked me to the cashier to purchase my chips then escorted me back to my seat at the $1/2 NLHE game. I’m in the crap hole 10 seat, but I’ll make due until something opens up. I immediately request a seat change. I’m dealt Aces in my first trip through the small blind and pick up a table full of limps.

I’m experimenting w/ a new strategy at this type of game that consists of loose-passive preflop and tight aggressive post flop. I’ll be the first raiser when I’m in position, but when I’m out of position, I’ve been limping just about any hand that I play. I hate playing OOP and any regular raise will leave you in a multi-way pot against any type of hand and too big of a raise could leave you just picking up the antes. So when I was dealt Ladies in the UTG+1 seat, I elected to just limp into the straddled pot. The flop wasn’t good for me (A29 and in retrospect, I don’t know if leading out was a very smart move, but I fired a $10 feeler bet into the 7 handed field regardless. Luckily I only got 2 callers and thought one was on the spade draw and the other (straddler) was possibly calling w/ just about anything, including a 9. The turned rolled off a beautiful red Lady and when the Straddler checked to me, I fired a $25 bet into the pot. A very large man of about 60+ years thought and thought and finally called me while the Straddler dropped out of the hand. In my mind I was begging for the deuce of spades to fall off to complete this guys flush and fill up my set of Queens. I was so intent and focused, and what do you know, there it was, just like in my sweetest poker fantasies, the 2. I counted out $50 at first then reached back for more as I knew I had my hooks in this guy and he had no clue where I was at. I counted off $75 and pounded the stack down onto the green suede tabletop. The old man thinks for a while, then asks me how much I have left. My face gives off a slight grimace as my heart starts dancing a jig. I move my hands so that the dealer can count my stack, but before he can even count it, the old man says he’s all-in and my chips miraculously beat him into the pot! I stacked a pot of $382, which pulls me out of the hole for the weekend and has me sitting pretty in a fairly deep cash game. The old guy had turned over K5 from the BB and looked at me and said, “I thought you were on a straight.” Uh, I wonder if he has a home game that I could join?

Sometimes the rabbit fires back!

The seat to the right of the “Straight” guy opens up after a big pot and I toss my seat change over to it. I’m being dealt AQo constantly and a few times it’s good for a small pot. I’m dealt AQ again in the UTG+1 seat and limp behind the UTG player. The MP1 player makes it $12 to go and gets 4 callers before it gets back to me and I call. The flop is a good looking one for me w/ a Q 6x 5. The UTG player donks $20 into the pot and my spidey sense goes off, but I can’t lay down TPTK for $20 into this pot. I smooth call and the preflop raiser (straight guy) starts talking about this call being against his better judgment. He still calls and the rest of the field folds. The turn is a blank and the UTG player fires out another $30 into the pot and we both just call again. The river completes the diamond draw and everyone checks the hand down. UTG shows QT for TPBK and the pfr’r and I have the same hand for a split. So I’m sitting good w/ >$400 stack now.

Sticking w/ my loose-passive preflop style, I smooth-call an UTG raise of $7 with KK from the UTG+1 seat. The next 2 players call and the MP3 player makes it $20 to go. Yahtzee!!! I’ve got just the situation that I hoped for. The 9 seat calls from the CO and the UTG player also smooth calls the $20 bet. Where would I be if I had done the initial 3 bet? I’d have 3 calls and be out of position. The action comes back around to me and I grab a 20 stack of red chips and pound $100 into this swelling pot. The UTG player who had originally raised comments to the MP3 player, “How does that feel when you get that done to you?” And the MP1 player chimes in, “Sometimes that rabbit fires back!!!”

Pride does strange things to people; sometimes they do stupid things and then have to face the consequences. The MP3 player thought and battled and thought, and he eventually called the $80 reraise. Everyone else had enough sense to fold. With the pot north of $250 I fired $125 into the all low card flop and the guy finally lays down his hand, flashing pocket 10s in the process. I’m now >$500 and sitting DEEEEEEP for $1/2NL.

Finally picking up a decent hand on the button and partially as an image move, I raise several limpers to $15 w/ KQo. The only person to call this raise is on mega–tilt and has been in verbal spats with the redneck to his right for the past 30 minutes. The floor has been called once already and everyone is on pins and needles. The flop is 776r and I can’t imagine anything good in my opponent’s hand after he calls my $25 continuation bet. Another middle card falls on the turn and I give up knowing that he is on tilt and will never fold. The hand checks down and he shows me a straight that he completed on the river. I’m at $465 after this hand and decide the drama is too much to sit with since the floor has been called for a 2nd and 3rd time. And two, BJ is nearing the bubble of the tourney that we had started at 11:00. I cash out for a $265 gain and go rail BJ as he crushes the weak table that he’s on that are all just trying to make the money.

Sweating BJJIII...FTW!

I swear the boy won 60% of the pots and by the time the bubble had burst, he turned his 16k stack into just north of 60k and hadn’t shown down a single hand. He eventually chopped the tourney 5 handed with him and another tough player holding 2/3’s of the chips in play. They took the lion’s share and the other three got consolation prizes because they were just happy to be there. It’s definitely worth a read on his blog Abuse the bubble. Exact sweet revenge. Collect 4Gs., so check it out.

For his celebration dinner, we went back to the Horseshoe to eat at the best restaurant in Tunica, the “Nawleans!” It’s currently in the back, to the left of their world famous buffet. This fall it will be moved to a more up front location that should get it the recognition that it deserves. I had a filet mignon with garlic & crab stuffed mashed potatoes. WOW, what a meal! What a victory!

We were done for, so we dropped off to bed. We awoke the next morning bright and early, but the 8am games were slow and we had a long drive home. So we checked out, loaded up and made the drive home. I can’t wait until we can do it again!

Congratulations, BJJIII on a great cash!!!!!

Bankroll building Cont: I run BAD!!!!

I run sooo Bad! I wish I had BJJIII's luck!!! AQ hand is a bad push on my part, the SB had just lost a vicious hand and I assumed he may be tilting, but the other 2 are just horrific. I'm glad the broadway hand was against a short stack.

Full Tilt Poker No-Limit Hold'em, $0.25 BB (9 handed)

MP3 ($9.65)
Landlord79 ($15)
Button ($26.55)
SB ($11.35)
BB ($14.75)
UTG ($24.50)
UTG+1 ($11.90)
MP1 ($26.95)
MP2 ($27.05)

Preflop: Landlord79 is CO with A , Q . Landlord79 posts a blind of $0.25.
1 fold, UTG+1 calls $0.25, 2 folds, MP3 calls $0.25, Landlord79 (poster) raises to $1.5, 1 fold, SB raises to $4.75, 1 fold, UTG+1 folds, MP3 folds, Landlord79 calls $3.25.

Flop ($10.25) 5, Q, 5 (2 players)
SB checks, Landlord79 bets $10.25 (All-In), SB calls $6.60 (All-In).

Turn: ($27.10) 7 (2 players, 2 all-in)

River:($27.10) 3 (2 players, 2 all-in)

Final Pot: $27.10

Results below:
SB has Qd Qc (full house, queens full of fives).
Landlord79 has Ac Qh (two pair, queens and fives).
Outcome: SB wins $23.45.

Full Tilt Poker No-Limit Hold'em, $0.25 BB (9 handed)

MP3 ($25.25)
Landlord79 ($23.05)
Button ($19.95)
SB ($8.40)
BB ($32.25)
UTG ($35.10)
UTG+1 ($14.05)
MP1 ($51.25)
MP2 ($25)

Preflop: Landlord79 is CO with K , 9.
5 folds, Landlord79 raises to $0.85, 1 fold, SB calls $0.75, 1 fold.

Flop: ($1.95) A , J , 8 (2 players)
SB bets $1, Landlord79 raises to $2.9, SB calls $1.90.

Turn: ($7.75) 9 (2 players)
SB checks, Landlord79 bets $4.65, SB calls $4.65 (All-In).

River: ($17.05) 4 (2 players, 1 all-in)

Final Pot: $17.05

Results below:
SB has Q J (one pair, jacks).
Landlord79 has K 9 (one pair, nines).
Outcome: SB wins $17.05.

Full Tilt Poker No-Limit Hold'em, $0.10 BB (8 handed)

BB ($12.95)
Landlord79 ($8.65)
UTG+1 ($14.25)
MP1 ($0.90)
MP2 ($16.05)
CO ($1.55)
Button ($15.05)
SB ($5.90)

Preflop: Landlord79 is UTG with K , Q.
Landlord79 raises to $0.25, 1 fold, MP1 calls $0.25, 5 folds.

Flop: ($0.65) A , T , J (2 players)
Landlord79 checks, MP1 bets $0.65 (All-In), Landlord79 calls $0.65.

Turn: ($1.95) 3 (2 players, 1 all-in)

River: ($1.95) 3 (2 players, 1 all-in)

Final Pot: $1.95

Results below:
Landlord79 has K Q (flush, ace high).
MP1 has A 3 (full house, threes full of aces).
Outcome: MP1 wins $1.95.

I just put that one in there for effect, I realize it was a tiny pot, but that was how my day went.

Full Tilt Poker No-Limit Hold'em, $0.10 BB (9 handed)

CO ($9.30)
Landlord79 ($11.90)
SB ($9.30)
BB ($3.90)
UTG ($8)
UTG+1 ($4.65)
MP1 ($9.90)
MP2 ($4.60)
MP3 ($5.90)

Preflop: Landlord79 is Button with 4 , 4 .
2 folds, MP1 calls $0.10, 3 folds, Landlord79 calls $0.10, SB completes, BB checks.

Flop: ($0.40) 8 , 5 , 4(4 players)
SB bets $0.20, BB folds, MP1 calls $0.20, Landlord79 raises to $0.60, SB calls $0.40, MP1 calls $0.40.

Turn: ($2.20) 5 (3 players)
SB checks, MP1 checks, Landlord79 bets $0.75, SB calls $0.75, MP1 calls $0.75.

River: ($4.45) 5 (3 players)
SB bets $0.5, MP1 folds, Landlord79 folds.

Final Pot: $4.95

Results below:
SB doesn't show.
Outcome: SB wins $4.95.

I finished this morning's session at $11. My stats were 19/10/3, so I was right in line w/ where I like to be stats wise. Things just didn't go my way. Back to Bodog, I run goot there.

Variance and Insurance for Ring Play

Poker is a game of ups and downs that we commonly refer to as variance. For periods of time, whether they be days, weeks or months, players can run really hot or really cold. I’ve seen absolute morons walk into a home game and destroy the room because the cards just hit them square in the face. The average players complain about how bad the new guy is playing, but the truth is, you want him to come back and keep playing like he is playing, it will all average out in the end once variance has corrected itself. And when that happens, the good players will be the ones holding the fat wallet.

Are we completely subject to variance? Do we have any control over poker’s natural swings? Most would say yes, we have no control and lady luck is holding all of the cards, all that we can do is get our money in good and hope that the cards hold up. Eli Elezra has a great saying that I love to quote, “In poker you can only make the best decisions you can and let the cards take care of themselves, while understanding that the cards do not always take care of you.”

Truthfully, until recently, that is exactly what I thought until some friends of mine were talking about sharing their wins and losses. I don’t mean to say that they were cheating, heck, they don’t even sit at the same table most of the time. This isn’t a totally new concept, tournament players do these kinds of staking deals all of the time to help smooth out their swings.

My 2 friends had a very loose method of splitting their profits & losses, not based on math, but based on fairness between friends with some other loose guidelines worked in. Basically, if both players profited they would split the profits down the middle. If one is a big winner and the other a loser then the winner simply covers the loser’s loss. If the winner’s profit is small and the loser has lost a buy-in, then the winner simply buys gas and dinner. Like I said, some very loose guidelines.

Sounds good to me, but I like more concrete guidelines for insuring and I also want to put out some guidelines for choosing who you should or shouldn’t be insuring.

Insurance Agreement:
1. In a win/win situation – Both players agree to share 30% of their wins.
Example: Player 1 wins $500 and Player 2 wins $100.
($500 x 30%)-($100 x 30%)= $120 going to Player 2 from Player 1 to help share the profits and smooth out some variances.
2. In a win/loss situation - the winner agrees to insure the loser with the lesser of 30% of the winner’s profit or 50% of the loser’s loss.
Example: Player 1 wins $500 and Player 2 loses $200.
$500 x 30%= $150 and $200 x 50%= $100 Since the lesser of the two is $100, player 1 only covers half of player 2’s loss.
3. In a loss/loss situation – Everybody loses!!!!!
4. In a loss/break-even situation – The loser can’t drag the break-even player down into the negative.

Who to Insure:
1. Someone of comparable skill and ability playing at the same limits.
2. A verifiably winning player.
3. Someone with a comparable bankroll. (#3 may not be as important when you are just making short-term agreements, but is very important with long-term agreements.)

I’ve just started fleshing this concept out, so any further thoughts would be welcome. I don’t use this insurance online, I just use it at casinos when I’m playing live and can utilize more hand reading skills.

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