When I last left off the story of my non-comeback, I'd spent about a month playing 4 hour sessions 3 times a week, winning very steadily and had taken my starting bankroll (if you could call it that) of $500 and run it up to $2,000.
During this run it kept bubbling up in my consciousness that for years I was playing against a pool of professional players from all over the world who played poker all day long 5 or 6 days a week, who were tracking my actions against them with software and using that data to tailor a strategy specifically to beat me. Of course eventually I started using tracking software too, but the point is I was able to win under those circumstances so it shouldn't be surprising that I was winning easily against a group that is 100% amateurs - some of whom are truly terrible.
After brushing off the rust at $6/$12 I knew it was a waste to not move up. But $2,000 isn't exactly a $15/$30 or $20/$40 bankroll. That could be gone in one bad session.
I was talking to my good friend E.B. about the fact that I was playing again regularly and he offered to take half my action at $15/$30. Instead of playing $6/$12 and paying $4 out of every pot to rake and $1 to a dealer tip, I'd now be playing $7.50/$15 with my end of the rake being $2 a hand and effectively tipping $50 cents. I figured this was worth about $10 an hour in rake savings. But of course I'd have to play against stiffer competition.
The Oaks $15/$30 is a very strange game. At times it is extremely soft and at other times, it's full of a players who really know what they're doing and could be winners in much larger games at other casinos. But I didn't mind so much if I had to play against those tougher opponents, because part of my wanting to move up was to get a sense of if I still had the skills locked away in my brain to beat tough competition.
My first time back at $15/$30 I felt nervous which really pissed me off. What did I have to be nervous about? If I played my best, I'd be hands down the best player in the game and I only had half the action. I way over thought things, called down too much, gave my opponents too much credit and lost $442.
After booking a couple more $6/$12 wins, and a $200 score playing $8/$16 at Bay 101 I gave the Oaks $15/$30 another shot. This time I didn't feel nervous at all. I'd spent a lot of time analyzing my previous session and the mistakes I made. I didn't repeat them. I came in confident and won $800 in a 3 hour session. A few days later I banked another $1,200.
Of course half of this money was going to E.B. so it wasn't as big as it sounds, but it felt great. Somewhere in the mix there was a $720 tournament win (4th of 75 in a $225 tournament) that we also split and after the $1,200 win I sent E.B. a text and said "a couple more of these and you're going to owe me a nice dinner." He said my math was off and one more would do it.
After my one visit to play $8/$16 at Bay 101 I decided I needed to check out their $20/$40. If the $8/$16 was any indication it would be a very soft game. And it was.
There was this one lady who was a Bay 101 dealer playing. She had about $700 in front of her when I sat down and ran it up to $2,000 while drinking heavily. She was playing crazy, hitting a lot of big hands and the table was responding by being very loose and aggressive.
I kept winning the small pots and losing the big ones, thinking "If I can make two 5 card hands or sets I'm going to be up $1,000." Instead I had 90 minutes fold, fold, fold, win a small one.
Finally I caught a break. Losing about $400 for the session, I limped in with J9, there was one raise and the flop came down J 9 3 with 6 of us in the pot. It was checked to me and I bet, there was a raise, I three bet and we took the turn 5 way. The turn was another 9 - BINGO! I bet and every body called. The river was a 10, I bet there was a call and now the crazy lady raised! "Ah ha" I thought, "Now I'm going to get paid!" Sadly that raise put her all in. She'd dumped all $2,000 in 90 minutes and I got her last chips. When she showed her hand she had T9 giving her a smaller full house! "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" I thought. If she'd had more chips it would have been AT LEAST 3 bets on the turn and 4 on the river with other players tagging along.
A couple of hands later I saw a flop with 88 in a 6 way capped pot. The flop came down J82 with two diamonds. The small blind was the one who capped the preflop action and he fired out. 4 players called and I was last to act. With everyone in there, no way was I slow playing. I raised, the small blind three bet and I capped it hoping everyone would put me on a flush draw. Sure enough the small blind fired out after the turn came a black J, two players called, I raised again and they all called. The river was a beautiful black 3 and I got called by the small blind who had AA and some nut who had turned a pair of jacks. There was over $1,300 in that one pot!
I played a couple of more rounds and left with a $900 win in the $20/$40 (plus a free dinner). The story of that dinner, and the next few session leading up to the present will be along shortly in Part 3 of this very long recap.