After work yesterday I made my way to Bay 101 hoping to have success similar to my previous visits (I'd grabbed north of $2,000 over my previous 4 sessions). I put myself up for $20/$40 at the end of a list that was 25 names long and thought about what else I wanted to play while I was waiting. I decided a $2/$3/$5 no limit hold'em game was a good way to kill some time.
During my most recent visit to Lucky Chances I discovered that what was once a poker room dominated by limit hold'em was shifting drastically to no limit. Instead of 20+ limit games and 2 or 3 no limit games it was a 50/50 split. I can't help but wonder of limit hold'em is going to go the way of 5 card draw, and 7 card stud which were at different times both the game that everyone played only to be relegated to home games. Look out for a more in depth look at this phenomenon in a future post.
The point is it's crossed my mind that my limit hold'em skills might not be worth much in 5 years. Luckily I've played a few hundred thousand hands of no limit cash games and over a million hands of no limit hold'em in tournaments so I wasn't exactly out of my element playing $2/$3/$5.
I bought in for $300 in a game where most of the other players had $500+ and two had $1,000+ in front of them. To my knowledge, I'd never played a single hand against any of these players (one of the reasons I wanted to buy in relatively small) so I was very focused on every detail of every hand in order to get a general sense of how they all played before I had to make any big decisions.
For the most part it was a weak tight game. There were a few hands where almost everyone would limp in, but for the most part it was a one raise and two or three people see the flop type of game. In two hours I only saw a handful or re-raises and they were all legit hands. Post flop anything other than a standard continuation bet meant that player had the goods.
For the most part I got a bunch of shitty cards, saw a lot of flops when I could get in for $5 and missed a lot. About an hour into the session I was in for $500 and had $300 left in front of me when I got dealt 97 of diamonds in the big blind. 6 players limped in front of me and I made it $35 to go. On 3 previous hands when someone had made a raise like this everyone had folded so I figured I'd give it a go risking $30 to pick up the $35 in the pot. I got 3 callers. Oops!
The flop came down 9 4 3 with one diamond and I bet out $60 into the $140 pot. I got one reluctant caller (the player who had limped in under the gun preflop) and another player went all in for $43. At this point I wasn't sure if I liked my hand or what I was going to do on the turn. But after the turn came a 5 of diamonds giving me a flush draw and a gut shot straight draw to add to my top pair, I only had one option - all in. The under the gun limper thought for 20 seconds and folded, the river came a ten, the all in player showed 66 and I took down a nice pot.
After that the rest of the night was a total shit fest.
A little later a player opened for $20 in early position and got called by 5 players. I had about $650 in front of me and looked down at AK off suit in the big blind. I made it $200 to go expecting to get no callers and pick up the $130 in the pot. But the initial raiser moved all in immediately for $300 total. Everyone else folded and after the board came down 6 7 8 9 10, I figured we'd chop the pot. Unfortunately my opponent rolled over JJ.
If I won that race (I was about a 55/45 underdog) I would have been up almost $600 for the day and instead I was stuck $150. I dropped another $200 through miscellaneous misses and miscues before my name got called for $20/$40. Drat!
Then my luck went from bad to worse. In the first 45 minutes I lost pocket aces, and two hands that made top pair on the flop (both pairs were also aces). In all three cases I was good on the flop and the turn, but lost to trips twice and a back door flush once. I also had JJ and AQ go down the toilet during this stretch and won a total of zero pots. The net result of this misfortune was a -$750 downswing right out of the gate.
Eventually I won a few pots here and there, but for the most part I kept getting a lot of barely playable hands like Q9 and KT in middle position or 87 off suit on the button. On the flop it seemed like I was catching just enough to call, but never enough to have the best hand - lot's of hands like middle pair or a gut shot with a nut backdoor flush draw in medium to big pots.
I wasn't happy about this, but I didn't have that gut wrenching stress that puts so many players on tilt. I actually felt pretty relaxed during the course of this entire beat down and I don't think my play was affected to any significant degree (Note: it's almost always total bullshit when someone says this, but I mean it!).
In the end I dropped $1,520 at the $20/$40 game, but luckily my good friend E.B. had half of my action so my personal liability was only -$760. All in all this was a -$1,100 night for me. By far the worst session of my recent return to the tables.
The good news is first and foremost I'm still $4,500 to the good over the past couple of months and secondly I don't feel that bad about this loss. The first time I lost $1,000+ in a day I was devastated. But that was 10 years ago and I've had 100+ days where I've has losses like that since then. I'm in some very strange, optimal state of mind right now where I can feel great about the wins - even the small ones - but when I lose I snap back into the frame of mind I had when I was at the peak of my poker career and losing was just part of the business.
Thirdly, those Bay 101 $20/$40 players are garbage. I'm going to fucking destroy them over the next few months.
My plan right now is to be back in action Friday night. I'll let you know how it goes.