What does your drive to the casino look like?
After lunch with Jana and Gavin, Fred and I made the hour long drive to Cripple Creek, one of a few old mining towns in Colorado that, faced with a defunct industry reinvented themselves as tourist attractions; small streets filled with little casinos.
However, in Colorado they don’t allow NL Hold’Em. I vaguely remembered the weird rules from the first time I had really played the game at all, when Fred had taken me to the Creek last June, and had clarified it with him a few weeks ago –
“Now let me get this weird-ass version of poker straight here – no SB. BB is $2. Minimum bet is $2, and if I want to bet on any street after that, it’s max $5?”
Yep. I suddenly moved from .10/.25 NL to $2/$5 limit. And unlike if I was playing online, I wasn’t going to have any one I could bug for advice if I got in a tricky spot.
I don’t like limit. I’m a control freak. If I don’t want you in my pot, I want the ability to bet you the hell out of it, and quite frankly, I am not confident that a $5 chip is gonna cut it. I began to worry. I asked Hank if I should read SSHE. He laughed at me. He told me that that the suckouts would happen, I just needed to play good cards and play them well. This is how Hank earned the affectionate name “Captain Obvious” from me.
However, headed up a snowy mountain to play real live poker for the first time ever, I kept thinking about that advice over and over like it was the most insightful theory piece he had ever written.
The poker room at the casino is small, consisting of only two tables, the first of which is full. We don’t mind really as they appear to be a loud rambunctious bunch. We start a second table with two props, and are soon joined by two young guys who appear to be on Spring Break (who comes to Colorado for Spring Break to play poker? ;)) along with a middle-aged man with very healthy chip stack, and a man that appears to be the father or older brother of one of the Spring Breakers.
Aside from Spring Breaker #1, most of the table were solid players. I didn’t worry so much about those suckouts, but I also didn’t try to get fancy. However, I didn’t let go of my agression either. And that kinda bit me in the butt a couple of times.
[Bear with me…Fred was OK with me taking notes until he found out why I was taking them, so this is all from memory…]
I got Aces on the button, raised it to $5, and ended heads-up with Fred. Flopped the set, with two spades. Bet $5 every street, and he called all the way, and I was worried when the river came because the spades were definately out there. Fortunately he didn’t have them and I won that one.
I had 9s and max bet it all the way, with my little two pair (board had paired 2s), not scared of anything (see note on agression above) and then caught a beautiful 9 on the river to save my butt.
Fred limped in with Queens in one hand and so when I caught my King on the flop, I had him, although I was worried he had made a set.
I got 7-5 (good ‘ole 7-5) in the blind and flopped the OESD, turn brought a 7, and river an 8. Heads up with guy who played every pot, and he had the 9 for the higher straight. That took a dent out of my stack.
Dead money came and joined our table, and shortly thereafter I had K 10 and paired the 10 off the flop with 2 hearts. I bet $5 and he called. Turn is a blank, I bet $5 again and he re-raised another $5. I called, and we both checked the river. He had 10-2 for two pair…ouch again.
I get a little bit back when I get Aces again, raise it to $5 pre-flop, get Dead money as a caller, and the flop is somewhat harmless, but it’s all black. Well, since I can only bet $5…he calls, turn is a club, and I bet $5 again (seriously, this limit stuff sucks sometimes). River comes to more than complete the lovely flush draw and quite frankly, I know one of my Aces is black, but I didn’t pay much attention to which…they were Aces. Bet $5 again and he folds. Everyone’s dying to know if I had it. Of course I don’t tell. Hell, I can’t – I don’t even know.
Our table breaks up and so we join the other table, where things are…interesting. There appears to be some sort of odd family dynamic at work at the other end of the table, as the younger players bust out they visit the father figure at the end for cash to rebuy; yet no family resemblance is present. (Hmmm…maybe you just had to go down there and ask for cash…didn’t think about that).
I got K-T and paired the K on the flop with two hearts, and bet $5. Took it down then, and the guy on my right then starts his process of trying to figure me out. “Ace King a great hand, huh? Top pair, ace kicker’ll do it.” Yea…or just a 10. I don’t even remember the other hand he did that on, but suffice to say his read was wrong, all wrong every time, and I just smiled sweetly and said nothing while stacking my chips. He busted out shortly thereafter.
Left that casino up a whopping $1.50. I know…WOW. I could totally make the BB, if we were in a shorthanded game. However, seeing as how at one point I was up about $20 and at another point down about the same, and I’ve never played live in a casino and certaintly not limit, I was proud of myself. OK, not proud really. Satisfied. OK, not really. It’ll do.
However, to get to the car we had to walk through another casino’s poker room, and Fred just really wanted to take a seat, so…we sat. And instantly I was uncomfortable. I liked the other room better, I liked the people better, I certaintly liked the dealers better. The guy across from me is playing any two cards and not speaking a lot of English…the guy at the left end of the table has a massive stack of chips, which I wouldn’t mind seeing so much in a NL game, but that doesn’t do me a lot of good here, it just tells me he knows what he’s doing and/or he’s been here all day. The rest of the table is two little old ladies who I suspect aren’t exactly just in from out of town, plus another college student type (what, was this not an original Spring Break idea??). Fred starts out by making a straight on his first hand and taking in a $60 pot. I do a lot of folding. I make pairs and they pay off. The hand that haunts me though is the 7-3 I had in the blind and when crazy man across from me raised, I folded (I hadn’t played a junk hand all day, and I so wanted to play those, but in general, when he raised, it was with good cards). Flop came A 3 3, turn was a 7, and really who the hell cares what the river was? My last hand I had pocket 6s, raised to $3, got one caller, and bet $5 on the flop of A Q 10. When she re-raised, I folded. Remember what I said about my agression? (She had it, she showed).
Still, I managed to leave that casino $4.50 up, so all total, it was a $6 winning session of poker for me. Again, not bad considering. Fred on the other hand finished up something like $145, the bastard. 🙂
I had a great time, although I was very much out of my element. It was surreal and beautiful to be sitting at a table playing poker with real cards and real chips, for real money, with snow falling in the background. I find all the table talk very distracting though. I’m the type of person that needs silence in order to concentrate, and so it’s hard for me to focus on a person with so much else going on around me…my mind naturally starts to follow the conversations of the people around me, especially when they’re loud and right next to me, which, when the liquor is free…the volume level sometimes goes up. But again, first time out – it’s a skill that can be practiced.
Next up is a $2/$4 NL game. If anyone needs me, I’ll be reading everything DoubleAs has ever written.