Saturday, October 22, 2011

Domination, Then Dominated

The Poker Diary comes to you live tonight from South Lake Tahoe, where I am finishing off a week of work at the 24/7 Job's real live location, rather than filling the queue from the Man Cave. At the end of the week is a wedding of a close friend, so I flew the Shooter Wife out for the weekend (she plays harp and knows the bride, too), and booked us in the closest nice hotel. Why, such a coinkydink that it happens to be a casino with a poker room! I'll just go pop downstairs while you sleep, my dear, and see if I can win back dinner...

Harvey's is pretty plush; it's part of the Harrah's chain, a WSOP circuit stop, and has a pretty sedate low stakes vibe to it. While there's still a sound collection of folks who appear to have a taste for the meth at the table, there were no f-bombs (in fact, the dealer cited a player when he got close to one), several women at the table (always a plus, in my opinion), and a general vibe of let's not bet like Internet children. They play $2/$3 out here, which is weird, but does seem to foster more limped pots and post-flop fireworks. Which, I guess, is the point. It doesn't change the game that much, other than to make the chip swings go a little harder.

I sat down with $120, looking for 2 hours of action before bed, and more or less muddled around for a while; I think it's never a good sign when you throw away rags that come up trips on the first hand. I won with 7s on a c-bet where I flopped an open-ended straight with my pairs, then lost with a lot of Ace-Rag off suits, flush draws to nowhere, and big picture cards with no support; aggravating. I bled off a bit, made some reasonable folds, got no action when I splashed, and finally made a moron push move into a made hand that cost me half of my stack before I stopped the bleeding. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Well, it's not impossible, dammit: I'm going to make this small stack last the time. A pair of 3s goes to trips and gets paid off all-in, and a half hour later, my limped 2's go to trips, then a boat on the river. Payday here, against the same poor woman who financed my trips, get me back to $95, well within hailing distance of the starting stack and with a bit of momentum... and it's only looking better when my 10-7 suited makes a flush on the river. The guy across the table bets the $25 pot, and I pay off his A-2 nut flush. Dammit; he's supposed to have a worse flush there, or at the very least, not lay down a perfect value bet for me to fail to sniff out. Back to 50%, and running out of time.

Under the gun, I get A-K off suit and limp, hoping the loose cannon on the button will raise. The pot goes family until one to the cannon's right, who pushes to $15 while looking like he's going to bite off his own hand for making the bet. The cannon calls, and I shove with full confidence for my $64 stack. I'm expecting folds -- I've been getting them most of the time on small bets, ever since showing the nuts on two previous shoves -- and when neither snaps to it, I'm feeling good about taking down the $40 bet without a showdown.

It's as good of a situation as I can hope for, and the arm chewer folds with something approaching relief... but the cannon doesn't. I flip over A-K, and he's looking ill; K-Q off, and I don't even have flushes to watch out for. Wow, this could be even better, and my mind is already doing the math to see how much over my starting stack I could be, for the first time tonight, when...

Well, hell. You've guessed by now, right? There's the queen in the window, a J on the turn to give me 10 outs on the river, and then the final blank. Two hours is up, and I'm felted, along with other words starting with f. Having played reasonably well, having felt in no way out of place or out of my league, and getting it in as good as I could have hoped, with the table seemingly sorry to see me go, almost as if they were cheering my short stack dance marathon for the past hour.

And, well, the only two words you can say in a situation like this are... That's Poker.

And also... have I ever actually won a hand with A-K?

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