Every once in a while I muster up some desire to play live poker. The yen hit this weekend, so I found myself hitting up the local charity cardroom for a little action.
The place wasn't terribly busy on Friday night. They run a tournament that I'd like to play someday - It's an $85+$15, which is the smallest amount of juice I think I've ever seen on a charity event. I decided I didn't want to fork over that much and instead signed up for the $3/$6 limit and $1/$2 "no limit" games. I got called to the donk-a-limit game first and ended up spending the entire evening parked in the same seat.
I don't play live very often, but it's interesting how many people are familiar. There's the big, happy biker dude who'll play any two cards hard if he's got a piece of the board. There's Sam, a man of indeterminate ethnicity (judging from complexion and accent, he's from somewhere around the Subcontinent) who will chase any flush draw and who once cracked my Aces with 94o. There's a guy and his wife who are mostly tournament players but who I swear I've seen at this location and at the "local" Indian casino at least 90% of the time. There's an old guy with a hearing aid who just spews chips. There's a young guy with the mark of the douchebag - a poker tattoo (a royal flush, of course) on his forearm. I don't know if he is one, but I certainly am going to consider anyone with the mark 'under suspicion'. And there are plenty of other regulars.
Just because they're regular doesn't mean they're any good.
Session one was unusual in a lot of ways. Most significantly, because in six hours of play I received AA three times ... and AA held up three times. I did have one other premium pair -- QQ was crushed by hearing aid guy's 62 sooooooted. He turned a flush, I rivered a straight. He'd shown down such monsters as 44 unimproved and K9o unimproved after betting the whole way, so it didn't really bother me to pay him off. I'll take his money 7 times out of 10, and that's enough to be profitable. Ended up half a buyin.
I went back for a second session, and decided to give the $1/$2 "no limit" game a try. It's not true no limit (it's really spread limit), but since the max bet is $500 it's essentially no limit. While waiting for my seat, I saw a three way all in on the turn -- two flush draws against top pair, second kicker. The river made the flush and the winner raked about a $600 pot. Of course I ended up seated directly to his left.
The NL game is a capped buyin of $200. I had a bit less than that, since I had donked off a few chips running my button suited connector into a big blind's AA on a $3/$6 table.
Pretty early on, I made a bad play. I had a suited connector on the button and smooth called an EP standard raise to $12. The small blind came along for the ride. I don't have reads on either player, but neither had a particularly big stack. There are two or three players, not in the hand, with at least $500 in front of them. The flop came two of my suit and also gave me a gutshot. EP leads out, underbetting the pot, and I raise to see where we are and to try and get rid of the SB. No dice. He calls and EP shoves for not much more. We both call. The turn and river both brick and the SB and I check it down. His rivered top two lose to EP's flopped set of 5s. I of course shake my head, sigh and muck.
Just like that, I've dropped half my buyin. Stupid. I decided (intentionally) to not bring money to rebuy, so I'm stuck playing short stack poker the rest of the evening. Which, incidentally, I suck at -- although my suckage really extends to all things poker.
Continuing on, I really should have just folded everything from there on out. I received exactly three pocket pairs, 44, 22 and 44. I got AKs once, AQs twice and a whole bunch of AQos. Ace queen, as you probably know, is the hand of death in NL cash games. I found myself either raising with it, getting callers and folding to a horrendous board, or calling a raise in position and completely missing. I doubled up once on a donk move with AQs going all in preflop (I think I had $25 or $30 left and had raised half of it on the button) against what turned out to be QQ in the blinds - I rivered the flush.
Since I didn't receive anything superpremium and since I missed 90% of all boards completely, my small stack dwindled away. The last hand I had 44 on the button and raised to $10 with $10 behind. The small blind reraised to $20 and the big blind called. I'm ready to go, so I'm in, even only getting 5-1. Turns out that I'm in better shape than I thought - SB had K9s and the BB 95s. That thought lasted about ten seconds, as there was a King on the flop, another on the turn and his flush even got there on the river. I go home now.
I think this trip took care of the jones for a while. It was fun to try the NL game, but I know that I'm not adequately rolled to play it. Also, while I wouldn't describe the level of play as "good", it's at least better than the other games. If I go back, and I probably will, it'll be to play the microstakes limit game with the drunks and the women with bad hair.
Charity poker, you gotta love it.
Edited to add: I also got to experience two unusual situations. There was a live AA vs. AA all-in, and I was part of an AQo vs. AQo. vs. AQo - of course I folded to a massive flop bet and the other two unimproved AQ holding donks split the pot.