Last Days at the Track
Today is the last day of operation for the local thoroughbred track. There will be live racing this afternoon (weather permitting, I assume) and then they’ll close the doors after 20 years in business.
I’m not a horse racing buff (unlike some people) but I’ve always been impressed by what a decent facility it is. This isn’t the biggest market, so it’s not like it’s Canterbury Park or anything, but it’s a nice place.
More importantly to me, the track has been home to regular, well-run charity poker for the last couple years. I’ve been up there twenty to thirty times for live game play – it’s absurdly convenient to have legal live poker five nights a week less than 15 minutes from your front door. The games will go on, but the new location is a lot less convenient – it’s almost 30 minutes away and not right on the highway.
When I realized that this was the week the track shuts down, I made plans for a farewell session. I went up last night about 7:00. There was a pretty good crowd – compared to what I’ve seen on other days – of a few hundred people watching the live racing on a raw November Monday. They actually made some noise as one of the races came down to the wire.
The poker action was slow. The games only go on Monday and Tuesday during the first week of the month. One table of $1/$2 “NL” cash was going and a small tournament got underway shortly after I arrived. I had to wait about 15 minutes for a second cash table to get going.
The players, as usual, were comprised mostly of the same diehards that play every night of the week. I don’t play often enough to have all the names or playing styles memorized, but I recognize the faces. No drunk noobs or crazy asian LAGtards were present.
There wasn’t a great deal of action in the early stages. I folded a lot of junk, limped in position too often and didn’t catch a piece of anything worth playing beyond the flop. I did receive AA in early position, raised and won $3 in blind money. Sigh.
With free time on my hands, I could watch the last couple races of the evening. It started snowing heavily during the 8th and I wondered just how miserable it was for the jockeys and horses. Sure was pretty to watch from inside, though.
A new player entered the room and immediately got the attention of the regulars at my table. Several put in table change requests, seeking to sit with him if he was placed at the other table. He was a scruffy looking older dude in sweats who didn’t appear to have showered recently. Someone said he ran a junkyard. Since I didn’t get his name, call him Junkyard Joe.
Junkyard Joe was seated directly behind me at the other table. I folded the next hand, turned around to watch him play and was greeted with a sight you never want to see in a poker room. Or anywhere else for that matter. You’re familiar with the term “plumber’s crack”? Well ol’ Junkyard Joe was treating the back side of the room to eight or nine inches of visible ass. The most crack you’ll see anywhere outside of the Detroit city limits.
Joe lasted one hand at the other table before being moved to our table — thankfully the other end — and I quickly found out why the regulars who knew him were so eager to have him join the table, ass and all. JJ made sure EVERY HAND* was raised preflop. Every hand was some amount between $12 and $20 to go. He’d call a raise if someone else bumped it first, but if nobody had, he was in there raising. His cards didn’t matter. Position didn’t matter. He was there to gamble, at least preflop.
Post flop, though, Junkyard Joe had a problem. Essentially, that problem was that he was a pussy. He’d call down with draws, but didn’t have anything close to the same reckless abandon that he showed preflop. One of the regulars with position bet out on every street, was called by JJ on every street, showed queen high at showdown and won.
Joe had a couple of wins – making a full house with 75o vs 88 for one – but his stack vanished in a few short orbits. I only had one hand where I even considered mixing it up: AKs in early position. I limped, hoping for a heads up opportunity against the maniac, but the very solid kid on the button popped it big. Rather than play for my whole stack out of position, I dropped, which turned out to be the right decision against the button’s big pair.
Once the white Sanford busted and left, things settled back down and I went back to trying to grind out a win. I did have one semi-highlight, turning quads out of the small blind. Didn’t get paid, though, as nobody else had enough of a piece to call my less than 1/2 pot sized bet. I guess I could have checked there and hoped someone liked their hand on the river, but I think that the board pairing would have killed my action anyway.
When I reached +$100 it was time to call it a night. It was nice to go out with a win (considering the pounding I’d taken during my last stretch there) and I think that’ll probably be the last live poker I play before Vegas in December. Unless someone throws a home game, that is. Hmmm. Thanksgiving holiday weekend, could be a good time for one…
* When I say every hand, I mean literally every hand. Except one. On one occasion, he just completed his small blind and about six people saw the flop for $2. I was immediately suspicious that he had an actual hand, but he folded immediately to a very small bet on the flop. That was the one and only hand that wasn’t at least $12 to play.