After a weekend filled with birthday parties, including my son's first birthday, I was too beat to make it to the tables on Sunday. But on Monday night I made the trek down to Bay 101 hoping to play some $40/$80 and take this thing to the next level.
Even though I've played games this big many, many times, it's been a solid 3 years since I've played a hand at these stakes and I was feeling something walking in the door.
It made me think back to the first time I ever played poker in a casino. I was 20 years old and I'd been playing 20 cent / 40 cent limit hold'em with my college friends. We'd been playing twice a week for about 3 or 4 months and my biggest win to date was $19. When I heard that Cache Creek - an Indian casino about 90 minutes away - had poker and you only had to be 18 to play, I had to go.
My friend Jake and I made the drive and soon discovered that the lowest stakes were $3/$6! AHHH! We knew The Oaks Club had a $1/$2 game and figured that every casino would have that stakes, when in fact the Oaks is probably the only cardroom in the country where you can find a game that small. After a trip to the buffet we decided we couldn't just go back without playing.
We got our pockets emptied both losing about $150. But we vowed to return and we did with better results. This is the only time I've ever played 15 times my normal stakes and it was so, so terrifying, but so exciting.
I had a little bit of that same juice pumping as I walked in to Bay 101. But the list for 40/80 was a mile long. So I put myself up for 20/40 as well and jumped in to a $2/$3/$5 no limit game while I waited.
I bought in for $500 (the table max buy in) and spent the next hour and a half listening to the turds at my table spout gibberish about how the $20/$40 game couldn't be beaten because you can't protect your hand and other nonsense. It was a great game, but I was totally card dead and chose not to mix it up too much with total air.
One big hand came up however. I was in the big blind with 98 off (one club) and we took the flop 6 way. The flop came down QJT with two clubs giving me a straight and the third nuts. There was $25 in the pot (after the $5 rake) and I bet out $20 not wanting to mess around with a draw heavy board. An old man called me and a young woman made it $95 to go. The old man had about $200 left, I had about $450 and the woman had $600. My first thought was that she probably had QJ, QT or JT. I didn't think AK was in her range because she'd just called in late position preflop. K9 was the only hand she could have that could beat me, but with so many draws out there I decided to just call and then go for an all in check raise on a safe turn. The old man and I both called.
The turn was the 9 of clubs which totally killed my hand. The flush got there and now anyone with a king would also have me beat. I checked and the old fired off his last $100 with no hesitation and I figured he had a flush. The woman called and I chucked my hand into the muck. The river was a red 5 and the woman won with K9 of diamonds.
After that hand I looked at the $375 in front of me and felt like I had just had a huge win. I easily could have blown off that whole stack on the flop. A penny saved is a penny earned.
I lost $257 over 90 minutes before the called me for the $20/$40. When I sat down at my new table I quickly noticed 3 Asian women one each who looked about 40, 50 and 60. They all looked really put together - dyed and styled hair, nice clothes, big diamond rings, necklaces, freshly painted nails, and one had a Louis Vuitton purse. Cha-Ching!
This is totally profiling. I may sound insensitive, but when you sit down at the poker table you have to start with a picture of your opponent and then adjust it as you watch them play. I've been surprised before, but not this time. These three all came with money to blow and were very loose and very passive. This was a $100 an hour EV table for me. But out of nowhere three players left! FOOLS! And the game broke.
My new table was good, but not as good. In about 2 hours I won $338.
In the movies they never make the hero wait 3.5 hours to play the big game, he just sits right down. But that's how long it took me to get to the top of the $40/$80 list and I decided to give it a go for 1 hour and then call it a night.
As soon as I sat down, a bunch of players got up and I found myself playing 5 handed. This would be an awful turn of events for many players, but since I've played over a million hands of 6 handed limit hold'em I was happy to be playing short handed.
I wish I could say I played really well, but I just got lucky. I got AA and won a small pot. I got AJ, flopped a J and turned a J. I got KK against the guy I'd been popping often when he was in the big blind, he played back at me, and I turned a K. These were all contested heads up and were pretty small pots, but along with a one or two even smaller ones I picked up 70 chips. Not a lot in a 4/8 chip structure, but when you're playing with $10 chips, it adds up! I won $708 in about 45 minutes and the game broke.
For the night I banked $789 and my profit for Project Flying Panther sits at$3,616.
I might be back in action this weekend, but not before hand.