I remember when I was 22 years old and just started beating the $6/$12 limit games regularly I asked one of the $15/$30 game regulars about the best time to play the bigger game. "Holiday weekends" was his answer. In the time since, I've found that Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Fourth of July weekends are the absolute best time to play as a lot of people who only play once every few months take their shot.
I was hoping for a soft lineup and instead I got one of the worst games in recent memory. For a while we were playing 7 handed and two of the other players were not tough exactly, but capable of making advance deceptive plays, big calls and big bluffs. This is quite a change from the standard field of total cupcakes I'm used to facing.
Worse than that I kept finding myself with tough decisions or having not awful, but just unfortunate stuff happen to me.
Early on 5 of us saw a flop that came down 5 5 2. After the rake there was $19 in the pot and the small blind bet out $30. This seemed like too much for a 5 and I figured he had something like a pocket pair 33-88. So I called planning to pop him on the turn as if I had a 5 when in fact I had nothing. The turn was a 9 and he bet out $65. I made it $200 figuring I'd get a lamenting fold. Instead he shoved for $400! Gah! I folded and he showed 53. I made a read and I trusted it, but it just didn't work out.
A little later I called a raise with TT and when my opponent bet $30 into an $80 pot on a 6 high flop I made it $100 to go. There were two other players in the hand who quickly folded and the villain slowly called. The turn was an 8 and he check called his last $50 with AK. After an A came on the river and he won the pot he explained that he put me on AK. I resisted the urge to tell him that this was the worst read in the history of poker.
I had 5 or 6 pots including those two where $300-$500 pots got shipped to my opponents. On one I called a $150 all in on the turn with a pair and a flush draw and missed. On another I raised the flop and made a big bet on the turn with one pair against a flush draw that called and got there. On yet another I had a pair against a flush draw that missed the flush but made a bigger pair.
I had long stretches of shitty cards coming in one hand after the next.
In the middle of all this mess I did drag a big pot with top two pair and that was the only thing that kept me from sinking. After 5 frustrating hours I was down $550 when my friend E.B. came in to play.
Normally I like to play from about 5 pm - 9pm and he plays starting around 9 or 10 so we don't play together that often, but I agreed to play longer than normal so we could sit in the same game for a while.
Things turned around right away.
By this point the solid players were long gone and the table was filled with cupcakes. Hooray cupcakes!
In one big hand I got dealt KT of diamonds, made it $25 to go and got 4 callers. The flop came down T 8 4 with two clubs and I bet out $100 with about $325 left in my stack after that bet. The next player to act started counting out chips. He was actually an OK player and was making plays with some thought behind them. After 15-20 seconds of deliberate counting he pushed $400 into the pot.
It's rare that someone in this game will put in so much without a big hand, but something seemed fishy. He was trying to represent a set, but a set probably wouldn't want to blow the other players out of the pot. This was a super draw heavy board and I quickly came to the conclusion that this must be a draw. I took 10 seconds to make sure I was sure and then I called. The board ran out red 5, red Q and my opponent showed J7 of clubs! Ah ha! It was a draw! That pot got me back to even on the night. I think if that draw had come in and I would have lost that pot I would have left.
Then I just totally wrecked this one dude. I took his $300 stack from him with KQ on a king high board. He bought in for another $300. I took that $300 when I flopped top 2 with AK and we got it all in on the turn. So he bought in for another $300. I had AQ on a K Q 5 flop and called a small bet on the flop and the turn. The river was an A and I got his whole stack for a third time! Boo-ya!
Bingo bongo I was up $1,000!
I ended up playing a few more hours until about 1 in the morning and left a $1,060 winner on the night. It's so much fun waking up the next day when it hits you that you had a nice win the night before.
As for E.B. he lost $500 with AK vs AQ all in preflop, another $400 with KK vs AK all in on an A K X flop (ace on the river!), and another $400 with A4 vs AQ on an A 4 X flop with a Q on the turn all in the first 15 minutes he was there! ACK! This was a truly epic beat down. But I got a text from him at 8:30 am saying that he was still there and not just back to even, but up $1,700 on the night/morning!
Since I've returned from Vegas and the WSOP I've played 9 sessions, won 8 of them and made about $4,000 in 40 hours of play. Who needs tournaments?