Halloween in a poker room tends to be less festive than in
the rest of the casino, where a good chunk of people show up dressed up. Poker
players, being the most serious of gamblers, generally don't dress up. Neither
do most dealers. The waitresses do, though their outfits tend to lean in the
PG-13 direction, with Batman, Bugs Bunny, and Al Capone, transforming into sexy
Batman, sexy Bugs Bunny, and sexy Al Capone.
I sat down across from the dealer with $500 planning to just
play standard TAG splashing around in late position, when possible. To my right
was an old Greek guy who limp-called every single hand. Everyone at the table
called him the "Greek guy." To my left a crazy middle-aged asian who
just did random things at random times and kept getting dealt QQ. Across the
table, to the right of the dealer was another asian guy. This one wore
sunglasses and disagreed with the principle of Halloween because "what if
they really trick you if you don't treat them!!!" He played super tight to
the point where even stations became sheepish when he entered the pot. To the
dealer's left sat an old guy who basically fell into the category of 5th-year
senior. He's the type that's been playing poker all his life but somehow still
manages to not be much good at it. He will also keep dropping little comments
about old-school times and pre-historic forms of poker to show how old-school
he is. All together though, not a bad person to chat up since he can have some
good stories (from the old-school days, of course). To the right of the Greek
guy, was a manly-looking unshaven stationy man who always sat at a 45-degree
angle to the table and kept an unlit cigarette in his mouth. He was dressed in
all-black. To his right, a younger-looking unshaven man that played tight and
stayed very focused on his chip stack. To his right, sat a rotund young man who
wore very large and very dark sunglasses, listened to his iPod, and put his
chips in the pot with a careless hand-flicking gesture as if spreading the
seeds on a freshly-plowed field. On my left, past the Crazy Asian sat a
gentleman of stereotypical lumberjack look. He played poorly but was
good-natured and probably enjoyed long walks on the beach.
The evening started out slow with me folding a bunch of
trash and missing completely a couple of times when I did play. My stack
dwindled slightly, but nothing significant. My only source of profit during the
first couple of rounds were people who did not know what to do if you did not
split the blinds with them. Basically, everyone else at the table would just
throw away their cards and take back their blinds if no one from non-blind
positions entered the pot. The first few times I had looked up from checking
out my cards only to find the other person tossing away their cards without
having looked at them and thereby forfeiting their blind. Once people caught on
that I intended to play my blinds, they started looking at their cards before
folding to my raises. Additionally, whenever a new person joined the table, the
person next to him would lean over in a confidential fashion, point at me and
inform the newcomer in an undertone, "He does not split blinds." It
seemed that my abnormality was categorized somewhere between the Flat Earth
Society and people who talk at the theater.
A few orbits later, the anti-Halloween asian picked up his
chips and left to be replaced by a non-descript, though clean-shaven,
individual who believed that any hand folded is a hand lost and, therefore,
never folded pre-flop. He bought in for 400 (80% of max buyin) and was the
first person to give me a big pot. I raised in middle position with AhTs after
a few limpers, and he called on the button. All limpers folded. The unshaven
TAG Flop came J82, all hearts. I continuation bet $50 (about 2/3 pot). He gave
me a look and announced a raise to 150. I was done saying "all-in"
before he reached his chips. He went into the tank. After some time talking to
the ceiling, to me, and asking me to show, he folded. I showed him my cards,
prompting a "good hand" and a paternal look at the pile of chips in
the center that promised his prodigal wealth a swift return home. He also
spared a less kindly look for me. There was a person who was never folding to
Two hands later, I picked up AQ of hearts in early middle
position and raised. I picked up 4 callers despite a sizeable raise. Flop came
KQJ rainbow. I checked, and so did everyone else. Turn came a T of spades,
completing my straight and putting a spades draw on the board. I bet 80% pot
and everyone except for the Monster Sunglasses folded. Rived came 7s,
completing the spade flush draw. He checked to me and I quickly shoved for
about pot size to get off a split or to, perhaps, get hero-called by a two-pair
or a 9. Sunglasses thought for a bit and folded. My stack was starting to look
decent, and I was up around 300.
After the blinds passed, I was in late position, and few
people limped, and I looked down on Aces. This was perfect timing for this hand,
as I had just shown a semi-bluff and then shoved river on a scary board and
never showed. My credibility had to be suffering. Joyous, I raised, and two
people called, including the lumberjack. Flop came a rather unpleasant A62
rainbow, giving me a set of Aces while ensuring that no one else had a
anything. Great. When it was folded to me, I still figured it was better to bet
since I had been being aggressive, and maybe someone would spazz out. And they
did. I bet about 1/2 pot, and the lumberjack immediately announced a min-raise.
I called after thinking for a bit, hoping he would continue with his bluff, but
he went no further after the flop. The hand still netted me nearly $200, but
not nearly as much as it had potential to on flops that gave my opponents a
piece of the action.
At this point we got a new dealer, a guy. He was wearing a puffy
bright purple shirt with ruffles, a small white tie, tuxedo pants, and a doctor
Dolittle hat. "Hah!" said the tight unshaven young man, "what
are you supposed to be?"
The dealer's eyes widened a bit. "This is my normal
outfit..." he said.
An orbit later, I was on the button and was dealt 93o.
People have not been defending their blinds at all, so when the action got to
me, I raised as if I was the first opener. Unfortunately, I had missed the
ninja-style under the gun limp from the old-schooler. The lumberjack in the big
blind called, and so did the ninja. Luckily for me, flop came 932 rainbow,
giving me 2 pair. I bet 3/4 pot when it was checked to me, and both opponents
called. Great! Turn came 4th suit 8, and the old-schooler confidently bet out
$100 into just under $200 pot. My mind started screaming alarms at me that he
has 98 here every single time. But he only had 150 behind, giving him only
slightly more than half stack pre-flop, and I don't know how to fold 2-pair
against short stacks. Plus, often he could just be playing something retarded
that way. We got it in, he had 98s and I did not re-suck on the river. My stack
went almost all the way back to its original size. Still, I don't see a fold
there ever given my hand, stack sizes, and general tendency of players to make
plays that do not make sense.
An orbit later I was offered a chance at redemption. The
mainly cigarette guy raised, the Greek guy called, and I looked down on Kings.
I re-raised. Manly folded, and the Greek called for about 1/3 his stack, which
had dwindled down to about $200 after his bleeding chips for a while. Flop came
3 Aces. I cheerily went ahead with planning how to trap my opponent on a flop
where, once again, no one could have anything. My trap worked perfectly. After
I checked behind on the flop, the Greek guy bet his stack off into me on turn
and river. The plan faltered thereafter, as he showed A9 for quad Aces and
dragged the pot. For some reason, losing chips in live play feels more substantial
than online. The beat did not end there. Horseshoe has Bad Beat Jackpot but,
unlike some other brick and mortar poker rooms, Aces full of Kings full house
does not qualify. Go figure.
Around this time, crazy Asian guy decided to leave our
table. He picked up his chips and moved to a tables next to ours. Moving tables
without floor approval is a no-no in most poker rooms. Several floor personnel
immediately descended on him and tried to explain to him that he could not move
tables. Crazy Asian guy proceeded to completely ignore them, waving his hands
and engaging people at his new tables in random conversations. Faced with their
target's back, floor people got confused. They mulled around for a bit longer looking
helpless and then left.
The crazy Asian's place at our table was soon taken by a Hot
Polish Chick (henceforth referred to as HPC). Her appearance caused most guys
at the table to become very concentrated, as they furiously thought of something
cool to say. Even manly broke his brooding posture and changed his position so
as to be sitting at a 60% angle to the table, facing the HCP squarely like a
compass. Old-school immediately started talking about his days of playing Stud.
Lumberjack leaned over to the HCP, pointed at me, and informed her in an
undertone, "He does not split blinds." I knew I had to do something
cool and manly to salvage my ruined reputation, so I ordered hot chocolate because my hands
were getting cold.
I did not play any major pots from that point on, though I
kept winning some small to average ones by raising pre-flop and either picking
up the blinds and limps or taking the pot down on the flop with a continuation
bet. M stack grew steadily, and I was soon in the green again. HPC, in the
meantime, played tight and bled chips in small pots that she seemed unwilling
to attack. After a while, she was in the big blind and down to less than $100.
I was dealt K7 of clubs in small blind. When everyone else folded, I just
shoved all-in. She gave me an angry look and declared, "I call only
because it's you, and you don't split blinds!" and called me with A9
off-suit. Any good poker player knows that winning close races is a key skill,
without which one cannot hope to ever achieve anything. Luckily, it was a skill
that I had, apparently, mastered. Flop came 77A. Nothing changed by the river,
and I took down the pot. HPC reloaded, looking dejected and told me that I can
only win by getting lucky and she hoped I would lose. I promised to try and
raised on the button. Everyone folded.
Around that time, the old-schooler had finished talking
about stud and started on limit holdem. I joined in. Eventually, we got to
discussing a situation where, because in limit you cannot control how much you
bet, there are situations where one person is correct to value bet his hand,
while the other is correct to call with a draw because of existing pot odds.
The resulting situation is one where both players are playing correctly because
of the existing pot size, a situation which rarely occurs in no limit. At that
point HPC, who apparently had been playing poker for a while and dated people
who also played poker, interjected, "That is only true at low stakes with
The old-schooler clamped up, and we both turned to her.
"Bad players," she gave me a significant look, "always think
they have the odds. That's why they are bad players. Good players know
I tried to explain that betting $200 into $1200 pot creates
the same pot odds as betting $2 into $12, which are perfectly sufficient to
draw to, say, a flush. HPC gave me a look of pity, "I really don't think
so. It works different at high stakes." I looked at the old-schooler. He
We were rescued by the return of Manly, who had popped out
for a smoke. HPC turned her attention to him.
"I can't believe smoker will put up with going outside
in the cold and rain just so they can keep smoking."
Manly saw his opening, "Would you ever kiss a
HPC made a face, "Duno...maybe with a lot of gum."
Manly pursued, "What if I quit smoking?"
HPC looked surprised, 'You would do that for me?"
Manly pounced, "For you, I would walk on water."
Silence stretched. After a while, the lumberjack shifted and
wondered aloud about the logistics of water-walking. "Maybe with a good
running start." I mentioned guys water skiing on bare feet. Conversation
gradually resumed its course.
I was getting tired, so a couple of orbits later I took off.
Net profit for the night was about $400 and few important math lessons.