Los Angeles Dept. of Commerce
"I've got a jack and a seven," claimed the large fella in the 1s. The Poker Geek gave him the once-over, turned his gaze to the ragged board--which contained neither a jack or a seven--and bet out.
"I call," said the Round Mound of Can't Lay-It-Down. Geek flipped over third (or fourth or bottom) pair and dragged the pot. "He said he had a jack and a seven," he responded to our amused glances. So he did. So. He. Did.
When poker players kneel to pray, they face Commerce Casino. A mecca of looseness that would cause a Bangkok brothel to blush. One hand is all it takes to know--beyond a shadow of a doubt--that textbook poker will not be prevalent. It was here a chunk of the Los Angeles blogger contingent spent its Saturday evening/Sunday morning.
The 3s was a tight-aggressive player who wanted everyone to know that sitting at a 2/4 table--a pai gow table, no less; comfortable for seven players, crowded with eight--was a good two or three classes below his standing in poker life. He groused more than once about how he should be at the $100 NL tables, a fact that was curious considering he was buying into this game $20 at a time. In his hour or so at the table, he showed down only two hands: KK and QQ. Naturally, he lost them both. To bloggers.
Absinthe was the first to take him. Defending his BB with 6h4h, he called the pre-flop raise and flopped two pair.
Then Geek rivered a flush to beat his Hiltons. The best part about all this was overhearing 3s re-telling the beats to some buddies at the bar. Never did make it over to those NL tables, I reckon.
The 8s also liked the incremental buy-in method. Friendly enough guy, saw a lot of flops. Expressed some misplaced admiration when I laid down top pair (KJo with king on the flop) to The Geek's incessant raising. Of course, I didn't lay it down until the river. Until the river was the second queen on the board. Until Geek bet out again on the river (with his rockets).
At this point, I hadn't dragged a pot. Then I got aces and flopped a set. Only The Geek came to the river, which was the third heart. Thankfully, he was on a straight, not flush, draw.
By this time, two new players had taken over for Mr. $100 NL. A decent player with a calling problem and his better-than-average buddy. I sucked out (maybe) on the former when I (naturally) played my AJs like it was gold (and frankinsence and mhyrr). I was unimproved on a ragged board--a fact that did not sway me from betting--until I spiked the river ace. He showed his buddy his hand in disgust. Either he had a small pair or Ace-little or non-ace overcards. Tough to tell.
I also dragged my biggest pot of the evening--an evening which ended 14 BBs to the good--against the same (poor) guy. Capped on the first two betting rounds as my pocket 7s flopped a boat. He called me down from there on out with his Cowboys.
It wasn't all bad news for him. He hit quad Aces much later, three of them on the board. His buddy played him all the way, but didn't have a pocket pair. If he DID, the table would have shared the bad beat jackpot. So close.
I have relatively little experience with live play. I hate that fact, because I enjoy it a great deal. But it's such a larger time committment and I already strain the dear and patient wife's capacity for approval as it is. But even in this small sample size, it's clear to me I play much more aggressively live. Looser, to be sure, as I called several pre-flop raises I wouldn't ever call online. But I'm also more willing to ram and jam my draws, see a turn with backdoor possibilities, etc.
I was trying to figure out why this is. Partly because I felt comfortable doing it, comfortable with playing my opponents after the flop with marginal holdings, comfortable putting others on a hand. It was something of a revelation to me.
Part of it is undoubtedly the human element. For several of the players, I had no need to see their cards to know they were playing garbage. A much more difficult determination to make vs. online opponents. Then there's the interaction. Playing with the bloggers obviously elevates the fun aspect, whereas online it can seem like work. A solitary grind. Plus, nearly everyone else who sat at our table was in "good times" mode. And there might have been beer.
I think another aspect is the slower pace of the live game (especially on a pai-gow table without an automatic shuffler). There's a psychology there I can't exactly pin down, but I think it makes a difference. Absinthe opined that boredom plays a factor. With the slower deals, the longer one goes without a "playable" hand, so it's more likely you'll take a flyer with marginal holdings. That sounds logical to me.
End (not so) quick aside.
At a later point in the evening, we were joined by Mrs. Absinthe, who took over Geek's seat (and no, I'm not ignoring the bad beat I put on him to grease the skids. My dread at relating it means I'm just saving it for last) and an Asian gentleman (and his sweating wife). Which sets up the worst beat of the evening.
I limp with ATo UTG and am joined by the Asian guy and two others. Mrs. Absinthe raises from the BB and all of us call. Flop is T6x. We all call Mrs. Absinthe's bet. Turn is a 6 and she bets out again. I know I'm beat, but I figure five outs and I've got right about the odds to call (it's late, you know). Then Asian guy raises it up. Folds to Mrs. A, who calls and I fold, knowing I'm now down to two outs.
One of which falls on the river.
For posterity, the Asian Guy played Q6o to Mrs. A's AA. A bad suckout. And I (correctly, though arguably a little late) laid down the eventual winner for the want of saving $4. The question, naturally, is would it have been better for me to have won that pot? Or worse? Or does it even friggin' matter. Having aces cracked by crap sucks no matter how you slice it. Considering how bad I felt about drawing out on Geek, I'm kinda glad it wasn't me this time.
Now I've managed to create all this build-up. Great. I suck. I called a flop bet I really had no business calling.
I was UTG again and limped with A9s (spades). Several other limpers, including the aforementioned Calling Station in the 3s and Geek raises from the BB. I call (loosely, but with the family pot...). Flop is all garbage with only one spade. I call Geek's bet anyway (here fish fish fishy) as does the Calling Station. Turn spade. Bets. River spade. Bets.
Calling Station has a Ks2s. So, I caught runner-runner with two spades out of play. I don't know what The Geek had. I didn't ask. I could only apologize. And hope not to be the object of a withering blog-lashing. Considering the vast amount of time I spend in this space complaining about people making bad plays getting rewarded, I am particularly chagrined. As such, I accept any and all retribution without complaint.
As penance I offered him a bed in my JUNIOR SUITE AT THE PLAZA for the blogger event in June, which he accepted. Actually, I did that much earlier, at dinner, but it sounds more magnanimous this way.
Dinner was an entertaining affair, with a lot of lively conversation about movies, books, poker, poker books, poker movies and poker. Glyph set the whole gig up. Little did we all know we were mere ammunition in an escalating war against April and the entire southwest. WPBT final table hero Bill Rini was in the house, complete with riotous tales of LA poker regulars. His buddy Mike showed up as well and he's got a brand-spankin' new blog. Grubby popped in later, fresh off a theatre bender, and proceeded to drag a couple pots on the NL tables (at least that I saw). I also relished the chance to express my admiration for his recent tales of stripper decadence with Pauly.
Last, and far from least, both Absinthe and The Geek attempted to drop The Hammer. Both had to let it go on the turn after pushing it the whole way. Cajones grandes to jam that bad boy on a 2/4 table at Commerce. One attempt did spawn an entertaining conversation with a couple other players about the spiritual cleansing powers of The Hammer.
I had a great time. Even making the hour-long drive home at 3 a.m. Can't wait for the next one. Thanks again to Glyph for setting it up.