"Rule a kingdom as though you were cooking a small fish... don't overdo it." - Lao Tzu"Do you feel lucky today?"
I had just walked into the elevator by the parking garage and a very short, round Asian woman in her 40s followed me in.
"I wouldn't be here if I didn't think so," I muttered adding a smile.
When the elevator reached the casino level I wished her luck. I ran over to the food court, used my Wampum Card to get a free lunch, and wolfed it down while multitasking at the same time making three phone calls and answering two. I sprinted to the poker room and put my name on the new computerized list.
"Dr. Pauly... $4/8 hold'em."
I waited for a half hour for my name to be called. I considered sitting at a $2/4 table until my name was called but opted to read the newspaper. When I finally sat down it was 2:30pm. Over the next 3 hours, I was brutalized and beated down harder than a Russian dissident. Yep, the table I was playing at seemed like a fishy $2/4 table. Preflop raises were not enough to deter people from playing crap. At some point I was about to sign up for the $5/10 out of frustration in an attempt to escape the loose fucktards who will play any two cards. I stopped playing $2/4 at Foxwoods because the swings were too high. $4/8 had a sold mixture of solid players who played by the book and a few fishy guys to keep things interesting. In the last few months, the $4/8 tables had changed completely.
3:31pm EST... For the first hour, I played tight (as HDouble would describe my B&M playing style) and folding crap hand after crap hand and attempting to get a feel for the guys at my table. I knew right away who were the loose players (Seats 8 & 9), who were the drunk players (Seat 2 and 5), and who were the online players (Seat 1 and 6). That's one of the advantages of B&M play... you can observe how other players act at the table. I read people very well which is why I feel that one of the better aspects of my game is taken away from me when I play online.
Next up on the agenda during my fold-a-thon, I size up the players at the table as quickly as I can... are they a beginner player? Do they watch too much WPT? Are they a well-informed student of the game? Are they there to have a fun time? Are they a degenerate gambler and come here five days a week? My third stage of observation involves looking for tells. How do they pick up their chips? How do they react when the flop comes out? All that routine stuff... which I won't discuss any further. Some days I'm really good at picking up little things.
There were two guys at the other end of my table who played any two cards. Both clown-fish saw every single flop and the one guy chased everything to the river, even if he had nothing. I dubbed him the king of bottom pair. He dropped $500 for the entire duration I sat at his table. He went through two racks of yellow $2 chips and did a $100 rebuy. And the tough part was that I did not win single pot from him. I know against guys like that you have to be patient and wait for solid hands. I tried that... and they all got cracked. KK, QQ, AKs, AKo, JJ, AQs... all losers. One guy next to me got KK cracked twice (J9 and J7s) by those crazy guys. My QQ were cracked by 10-3o.
3:54pm EST... The only hand I won in three hours at that table was Qd6d... I raised on the button and got five callers! When an Ad and another diamond hit the flop, I made the decision to chase all the way to the river. I raised on the flop and even on the turn, getting two callers and hit my flush on the river. That was a $120 pot and my only highlight of the $4/8 session. Luckily Senor and his brother came in the middle of my horrid run. And that eased the pain a little. They were seated at different tables and I would take frequent breaks to chat.
5:01pm EST... Hank987 showed up. It was cool to finally meet one of my loyal readers! Here's how the story goes about how we first crossed paths... several months ago, I was playing a ring game on Party Poker (under my old screen name PaulyMcGrupp) and Hank987 was seated at my table. He asked me if I was the guy from the Tao of Poker. We started chatting and I found out he goes to Foxwoods too. That was the week when I was recognized like five different times by random readers. Anyway, since then I've played with Hank987 a bunch of times online. He's sat at the blogger tables on more than one occasion. And he happens to live an hour from Foxwoods which is why I told him I was making a run.
5:34pm EST... Hank987 sat at a $2/4 table and I had to wait a while to switch my seat. When I finally got there, I was down $160 after three hours of play. Not very impressive. I decided to relax, have a beer, and shoot the shit with Hank. Lucky for me, we had a fun table, and I ended up coming out on top.
The players:Yep, Grubby and the Poker Geek would have been psyched to sit at my table. The cute girl sat directly across from me. It was nice to have something pretty to stare at all night. She and her boyfriend were playing a casino for the first time. They both seemed a little nervous at first and played fairly tight. Anyway, the guy in Seat 2 announced to the table that the 9 was his favorite card and he would play any hand with a 9 in it... 9-2, 9-3, 9-A... you get the drift. Whenever he saw a flop and a nine hit, everyone put him on a pair. After a while I began to limp into any pot that he decided to limp in with. I got him a few times. Once I put a bad beat on him. He had AKo and I had A7s.
Seat 1: Fat guy with hot wife
Seat 2: Mr. Nines
Seat 3: College Kid
Seat 4: Tight Guy
Seat 5: Middle Aged Woman
Seat 6: Pauly
Seat 7: Negative Ned
Seat 8: Hank987
Seat 9: 20-something guy
Seat 10: Natalie Portman look-a-like... the girlfriend of guy in seat 9
6:43pm EST... Anyway, the guy to my left complained about every bad beat. I nicknamed him Negative Ned. I hated clients like that guy, who used to call me up at 4:01pm (the minute after the trading day ending) and he'd bitch me out that his stocks were not performing well. I had clients who were down $750K for the day, and that jerkoff was moaning about a 1/4 point downslide. Unreal. That's part of the reason I retired in the first place. I betcha that guys like Negative Ned weren't hugged enough as a child. Anyway, he had some valid points, because he was river'd a lot... and it was almost too comical everytime it happened. But it's a $2/4 table... what did he expect? I also had a shot at him and river'd him too... when I had ATs and flopped two spades. I caught my flush on the river to throw more salt into his bad beat wounds. That was awesome because he bitched about that hand for forty minutes before he finally left. Nothing is cooler than rivering Red Sox fans in their backyard. "Everyone is catching cahhhhh-zs, but me!" he yelled.
One aspect of limit poker which is different from NL (which I play all the time online)... is that I find myself chasing nut flush draws more often. I had a nice chat with Iggy in Vegas about pounding your draws in limit. So there I was in Foxwoods, pounding away with my betting, in pots where 7 or 8 people were seeing a flop and 3 or 4 going all the way to the river. I found myself making moves that I'd read about in so many poker books out there. One example was getting the free card on the turn, by check raising on the flop from early position. I did that twice and got two free cards... both time missing my draw. But I saved a half a BB each time by checkraising on the flop. Another move I made a few times was straight out of Izmet's Bits of Wisdom... regarding jamming pots with flush draws when you expect three or more callers. Anyway, I would read about those scenarios in poker books and online, but rarely had those opportunities to follow through on their advice. Felt cool to see it happen in a real life application.
7:14pm EST... I also began playing cards I would never play... like two gapped suited cards and any small ace. I felt embarrassed when I flopped two pair with 53s. When I turned it over, Nat Portman who had been playing super tight, made some comment, "You played those cards?" I told her I got reamed on the $4/8 table playing nothing but good hands... and that once in a while you need to see a flop with any two cards... to either cure your boredom or mix up your play a little to let your opponents know that sometimes you might play any two cards. Iggy is the master of that at the NL blogger tables.
Hank987 suffered two pretty tough beats. Nat Portman slowplayed a fullboat with 88 and she surprised everyone at the table including Hank. I would have lost my stack in NL on that hand. I dunno if she made a brilliant move or was too timid to bet out with the nuts. The other hand was one of the worst bad beats of the night. Mr. Nines caught runner runner for a flush even after he completely missed his flop with J2s. Hank987 had trips and he never really recovered from that vicious beat.
9:01pm EST... I lost track of time and pretty soon four hours had flown by. Hank987 and I chatted about random stuff, mostly poker and those wacky blogger tables. By the way, I thought Hank987 looked a lot like Fish... the drummer from Phish. Anyway, Senor lost his buy in at a $4/8 table and came back from the craps table pretty sloshed. Jay had turned $100 into $350 at the NL table beating KK with his AA. They were both starving. I said goodbye to Hank and I was shocked to see that I had won over $120 at the $2/4 table. Yep, I was down only $40 after a great run. I can't recall the last time I won money at a $2/4 table at Foxwoods.
9:45pm est... Jay bought us dinner with his NL winnings at the Carnegie Deli, one of the newly added food places at Foxwoods, which always seems to be growing and adding new stuff. I ate a yummy pastrami on a Kaiser roll and it hit the spot. We partied a little in our room before heading back to the poker room around 11ish. I had to wait a while for a $4/8 table so I sat down at a $2/4 table. Senor headed for the $1-5 stud tables and Jay hit the bar. This $2/4 table was the softest table in the world. Right away I knew I was the best player there. Most of the players were beginners and played pretty tight for a $2/4 table. If there was a single raise preflop, maybe you'd get 3 callers max with no reraises. On my $4/8 table, you could cap out the betting preflop and have six players seeing the flop!
11:06pm EST... Anyway, the decked smacked me in the face. A monkey riding a dog could have played my cards and won. First hand... AK and I flopped a king. Second hand... JJ... and I flop a set. Third hand... AQs and I flopped a queen with a nut flush draw. A few hands later I lost with QQ (to 47s), then won with AJs, and bluffed with 22. By the third orbit and while waiting for my second drink... I flopped sets with 44 and 55. I flopped a flush with A9s and flopped a Broadway straight with KQs.
11:46pm EST... I was easily up $150 at the table and wiped out my earlier loses at $4/8. I was going to walk away, but it was last call on alcohol in the poker room, so I ordered another drink (well, two actually) and made a lot of loose calls in late position. That's when I saw the Hilton Sisters in the LB. They had been 0-2 for the night for me. I was due. With four limpers in the pot, I decided to just call and not raise. I realized that the guys in the hand would have called regardless if I raised or not. Why give them a bigger pot to steal from me with A-x? The flop: 5-Q-5. I was shocked to see another flop hit for me. Not only did I hit my queen, I flopped a full house. Since I was first to act, I came out betting. I got four callers. The turn was a blank and I bet out. The big blind called and everyone folded. The river was another five!! I bet, the big blind raised and that's when I knew he had a five. I called and said something like, "Show me the case five, Johnny Damon." Sure enough he flipped over A-5. He flopped trips and only called on the flop and turn. I had a bad feeling about that 5 on the river and that's why I slowed down in betting. Everyone was shocked I didn't reraise and end up in a back and forth heads up raise-off. At that point I decided to play a few more hands, then quit to find Senor and Jay. A bad bad like that is enough to set you on tilt, but I had enough sense to call it a night. I doubled up my buy-in at that table and found myself up for the trip.
Final Tally:I found Senor and we had some cheesecake. That's an old custom of mine... my victory slice of cheesecake whenever I have a winning session at Foxwoods. It's been a while since I had one of those. I had to get up at 7am to drive back to the city. The ride was not fun, but I had a brand new rental car... only 23 miles when I got in. I put exactly 305 miles on it... which is about right. NYC is only 150 miles from Foxwoods. That Toyota Camry gets amazing gas mileage... only $19 for a full tank of gas and I only had to buy gas once. In the past I've spent anywhere from $25-30 on gas for a NYC to Foxwoods roundtrip.
$4/8: - 160
$2/4: + 220
Net: + 60
Added note: Jay and Senor played in the 10am NL tourney. Senor only lasted the first hour, but Jay made the money and took 19th out of 160th! Congrats Jay! He ended up winning over $400 for his trip. I wish I could have stayed, but I had a lot of writing to do and plenty of Christmas shopping still left on my agenda. Can I really get away giving a Foxwoods coffee mug for a gift?