Sunday, 8 May 2011

LIVE! From the Basement to the B&M

I wrote most of this a week before Black Friday and now that I'm seeing more and more live poker trip reports I was inspired to finish it up. It's a bit of a short story / trip report from my first live casino experience about 4 weeks ago. Hope you like it.

The Journey
"Backstreet's back, alright!" Ugh. 90s Theme Weekend on the local radio. Hero appreciates being able to understand the words as much as the next guy -- Must be getting old -- but Backstreet certainly doesn't need to come back. He turns on his iPod. No Bluetooth -- he's only a microstakes grinder -- he has to use the lighter adapter FM transmitter he got for his birthday. "Here they are! Mike aaannnnnnd Adaaammm." This will have to do.

It's a grey, dreary day. Just above freezing with a steady shower hitting the pavement. About as much as you can ask for on a Friday in early April with winter threatening to come roaring back any minute. He's on his way to the local casino. It's 2 hours away, which is why he's never been to one before, besides the fact that it always seemed a bit indimidating. Looking out the driver side window, spring flooding is well under way. The fields look more like small lakes. Two feet of gravel shoulder hold the water back from swamping the two lane highway as the third wheel makes another smart ass comment on the podcast.

Hero has played this game for nearly five years and had yet to set foot in a poker room. Upon arrival he turns into what appears to be the parking lot in front of the casino and weaves around the valet service looking for a spot to park. Every single one of them is full and are marked with what appears to be yellow squares on the pavement. There's an empty one in the last row and the square marker is fully visible. It's a handicap spot. What kind of a sick joke... there's gotta be 400 handicapped parking spots here!  Two more times around the block and he finally finds the "General parking in back" sign.

After wandering around a bit in the lobby of the hotel he manages to find the corridor to the casino. At the end, the incessant zylophone sound effect being played by the man on the stage spinning the bingo ball drum completely changes the atmosphere. After Hero's eyes adjust to the darker lighting, he's hit by a wave of electronic slot machines with a wheel chair or a walker sitting at every one. That explains the parking lot.

After wading through a sea of slots in multiple rooms and running in several circles, Hero finally finds what he's looking for:

The back half of the casino containing the table games and poker room is on the other side. Hero finds an ATM in the 18" corridor between the men's and women's restrooms and waits in line for a 30 something to stuff a wad of 100s into her wallet before she scrambles off back to the pit. Hero is scared money. He withdraws 100bb for 1/2, puts half in his pocket to put on the table and the other half in his pocket to rebuy if necessary.

There's six tables in the room. Four of them are running. All $1/$2 No Limit Hold'em. No one's on the waitlist and it doesn't take Hero long to get into a game.

The Line Up

Seat 1: Hero. This seat sucks. 3 of the 4 dealers like to constantly lean over their chip tray. The automatic in table shuffler directly in front of Seat 1 is kind of interesting but makes folding awkward. It's really tough to see the action in seats 8 and 9 and causes a lot more prompting than necessary and a few checks after seat 9 had bet and a "That only works once buddy" response from some of the other players. It is a decent seat for interacting with seats 2-5 though.

Seat 2: The whiner. It's his birthday, 32nd in fact, and he's supposed to out for dinner with his girlfriend but her babysitter bailed. He runs extremely bad and can't get a top pair hand to showdown without the board running out 4 to a flush or straight. General FML attidude.

Seat 3: The News Anchor. At least, he looks remarkably similar to Devin Scillian from Detroit Local 4 news and is happy to throw out the fact that he has a lot of money to burn and is playing in the $1100 MTT the next day. His wife apparently crushes online but is too indimidated to play live. Super friendly, talkative and polite guy.

Seat 4: Nitty Old Guy. I assume this is what everyone means by live old nit-regs. Super weak-tight-station willing to c/c down with 2nd pair + flush draw and folds to a token $2 bet in a $50 pot on the river when his draw misses. He's a 1/2 reg because his wife is a bingo reg and they wander back and forth between the poker room and the bingo area to swap cash depending on who's up.

Seat 5: Crazy Limp Fish. Random hick with massive swings and rebuying for 300bb at a time. Has a goofy smile plastered on his face the entire time and likes to see if he can bust people with 72o because that's funny. "Anyone that knows me knows that when I limp/reraise it's AA every time." True story told after stacking Asian LAGtard's AK aipf and raking in a 400bb pot.

Seat 6: The Mid Life Crisis. Scruffy 40ish year old who plays relatively well and straightforward. Drama drama. Corderoy pants are a little slippery which is bad for having your wallet fall out at which point he sits there in shock looking like a drooler while the dealer calls surveillance. Thankfully Crazy Limp Fish sees it on the floor under the Seat 6 chair and says "It's right there, numbnuts. Where's my finder's fee?"

Seat 7: Quiet TAG. 50ish Mike Ditka lookalike. Nitting it up and fat value betting, pretty solid adjustment to the game with an obvious nit-value range. Doesn't say a word all night besides "Raise."

Seat 8: Good LAG native kid. This guy can't be more than 19 and is just going wild with the preflop iso's and semi-bluffs. Apparently cardracking and crushing the table. He cashes out shortly after Hero sit down so they don't get to clash. Security shows up with the $100 chip lockbox so he can trade in 240 red $5 chips and then escorts him to the cashier. He gets replaced by a young Tom Dwan for most of the night who burns through $400 before realizing his iso/cbets aren't working.

Seat 9: Asian LAGtard. Overvalues absolutely everything and is more than willing to fire off 300bb with air. Endless supply of Sir Robert Borden's ($100) in his pocket. High variance is an understatement.

Other Noteables:
Too good for 1/2 dude in his 40s and wearing a 90s sportjacket keeps wandering back and forth from the poker room to the blackjack tables. He asks when the 10/20 game is going to start. Host: "I can gaurantee you there will be no 10/20 game tonight." 10/20 pro: "Put me on the interest list for 10/20." That was a lonely list. Eventually he stoops to our level and sits at the next table over looking trying to look completely disinterested after waiting for three hours.

Drinks on the House every 2 hours!

The Hand
Hero only gets seriously involved in 2 pots the entire night after playing 150 hands. The concepts of isolating and cbetting are a complete lost cause even when he goes with a standard live large iso so limping along it is. Hero rakes in a few orphan pots, three in total. The term 'orphan pot' doesn't really apply to this game either. The only medium size pot he plays, he opens JTs UTG and managed to get HU with Mr. Mid Life Crisis, taking it down with a bet, check, check/call line when villain decides to turn his 88 into a bluff on J733K.

Hero's been overlimping and seeing some flops. Stack has dwindled a bit.
Hero is BB with AsQs
Preflop ($3):
The Whiner limps.
The News Anchor calls.
Old Nitty Guy calls.
Crazy Fish calls.
3 folds.
Asian LAGtard raises to $14.
Hero Calls $12.
The Whiner calls $12.
Old Nitty Guy calls $12.
Crazy Fish folds!
Flop ($58): Qh Ts 8s --> Jackpot!
Hero slowplays cause there's no way this flop is getting checked around.
3 checks fml.
Asian LAGtard bets $80! [Ks Qd]
Hero calls $80 and is all-in. [As Qs]
The Whiner calls $70 and is all-in. [Ks 3s]
Old Nitty Guy calls $60 and is all-in. [Ad Td]

Hero is in total disbelief looking around, wondering what is going on. He's so flabbergasted that he can't even match hands up to the board and doesn't know whether he has the best hand or not. Spade ONE TIME! Turn, 3c. River, 6c. Blank. Blank?

Hero is still trying to figure out what everyone has while LAGtard is reaching for the pot. LAG's half of the table puts up a unified "HEY!" The dealer is also trying to figure out what everyone has. "I have top pair top kicker," says LAGtard holding up the King of spades. Hero's half of the table lols and points at Hero's Ace of spades. The dealer requires two full forearm swipes at the pot to push 60 red chips and change all over to Hero's corner. Hero auto-folds the next two hands while he's busy stacking chips.

Two hours of limping and check/folding later and Hero decides to call it a night. Profit: 300 big blinds for a 200 bb/100 winrate. Not too shabby. He fills up a rack of red chips and heads to the front of the poker room where he's traded four black chips to take to the cashier. Taking the intended long walk back through the pit he can see how easy it would be for most people to just throw down a black chip on a hand of blackjack on the way out.

Back in the car its raining again while Olivier Busquet makes some profound statement about the key difference between a good player and a great player is the ability to control tilt. Hero is definitely planning on coming back as he empties the contents of his wallet on the passenger seat and counts his profits.


For anyone that hasn't seen this yet, it's an absolute must watch.
'Too late, axe in car' makes me burst out laughing every time.


  1. sounds so much more exciting than online...haha

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