I made my way to Bay 101 Tuesday night feeling confident with a good plan in place. I had $2,000 in my pocket and was ready to take on the challenge of playing against a bunch of new faces.
There are a 3 small differences at Bay 101 that end up making things materially different: 1) they play the games 9 handed instead of 10 handed 2) they have 5-6 games going at once (even on a Tuesday) 3) there seems to be a cultural difference where people spend more time lobbying (i.e. away from the table). All of these things combined lead to the games playing 6 or 7 handed often.
In theory this should be good for me. Almost all of the time I spent playing online poker full time for 7 years was short handed. When I played no limit cash, it was 6 handed games. When I played limit games, it was 6 handed. I played about 15,000 single table tournaments where, guess what - you spend a lot of time short handed.
In practice...I was going to say maybe it's not, but screw that. It has to be good for me!
Shortly after I arrived they started a new $2/$3/$5 game with 7 of us. I bought in for $500 which is the max and oddly everyone else bought in for exactly $300 or $400.
My plan was to be conservative for the first hour so I could get some sense of how everyone played, but I had to throw that out the window on the 3rd hand. There was a raise to $15 and we took the flop 5 way. I was on the button with A3 of spades, the flop came down K 2 2 with two spades and everyone checked to me. The conservative play would be to check it back, but it just didn't seem like anyone had a piece of that and I did have a flush draw so I bet out $50. Everyone folded. So far so good.
One round later I was back on the button and there was a raise to $25 and two calls. I looked down at AA and made it $85 to go. All three called without hesitation. At the Oaks I might expect one or no calls and if it was a little later in the session after I confirmed that these guys all hate to fold I would have made it at least $100 and maybe as much as $120. Anyway the flop was a beauty - K 6 3 rainbow. They checked to me and with $340 in the pot and all of them having $400 or less I moved all in. The first two folded and then the third guy took about a minute before finally folding what he said was a pocket pair.
Not much else happened in the first hour and I found myself $275 to the good an hour in.
In my first hand of note in the second hour I had AT of diamonds in the small blind. A 30ish Asian guy in middle position who I'll call Mr. I Got There raised to $25 and got called by one other player. I called as well and the flop came down A 7 2 all spades. Mr. IGT bet $40 on the flop and I was the only caller. The turn paired the 7, I checked and Mr. IGT bet $60 with another $120 left in his stack. I figured he could have an ace or a pair with a big spade or even just a big spade. I was a little surprised that the turn card or the fact that I called the flop didn't slow him down. I didn't think he was on total air, but there were plenty of hands - like a pocket pair with a spade or Ax with the x being smaller than T - that I could beat. Since he wasn't that deep I decided to go for it and moved all in. He snap called me, the river was a red Q and he showed me AK with no spades. I'm not saying I'd expect this guy to fold here, but the fact that getting check raised all in on the turn didn't cause him any hesitation with one pair is telling.
I got another taste of "These guys hate to fold" a little later. I got dealt T4 of hearts on the button and I threw in $3 to see a flop 6 way. The flop came down 9 4 3 with two hearts giving me middle pair and a flush draw. Everyone checked to the cutoff who bet out $25. I considered raising, but decided with 14 outs to improve I wouldn't mind a few other players in the pot. But everyone folded. The turn card was a A and my opponent checked to me. With 14 outs and a great scare card I took a shot at it and bet $60. My opponent slowly called. I figured he probably had a 9. I was hoping to either make my hand or get something like a K or a Q that would help me unload a 9, but sadly the river was a black 8 missing me completely. There was about $200 out there and my opponent had $90 left. I figured another bet might convince him I had an A or had flopped a big hand. I'd only need this to work about 30% of the time for it to be profitable. After a short pause he called and showed me T9. Drat!
Those felt like a couple of pretty minor losses, but that was $425 out the door. I saw a few more flops and missed and before I new it I was stuck $300 on the session. I was also square in the mode of waiting to make a hand and bet for value.
The I got dealt KK! A ha! Time to bet for value. Mr. IGT called $5 with a $500 stack and another player who had us both covered (I also had $500) raised to $25. I made it $65 to go out of the small blind. Mr. IGT asked how much it was 3 times. As in "How much is it? [10 second pause] Man. How much is it? [10 second pause] Man. How much is it?" All 3 times the dealer told him it was $65 to go. Eventually he called, as did the other guy. The flop came down Q 4 2 with the 4 2 of clubs. I had red kings, but that looked like a pretty sweet flop. I bet out $130 hoping to get called by a Q. Mr. IGT called and the other guy folded. "Pair the 2!" I thought. The turn was a 6 of clubs bringing in the flush draw. Was it possible that my opponent made a flush? Sure. But his hand is really pocket pair heavy given the preflop action and it would be much more likely that he had a pair 77-TT or even something like QJ. Either way I wasn't just going to check fold, so I moved all in for $295 in to the $460 pot. He thought for a probably a full minute before calling all in for $290. The river rolled off the 9 of clubs and I knew I was cooked. "Overpair?" he said. I showed my KK and he said "I got there" and showed 55 with the 5 of clubs. Son of a bitch!
There was about $1,050 in the pot and I think it was the first time in Project Manhattan that I've been taken all the way to the felt (or within $5 of it) on a hand which is actually pretty surprising.
I will admit that I felt a little rattled after that one, but I had more money in my pocket and bought back in for $500.
About 10 minutes later I got dealt KT of diamonds and came in for a raise to $20. I got two callers and the flop came down 9 7 6 with one diamond and two spades. The player in the big blind check called my bet of $40. The turn was the 9 of diamonds and my opponent checked again. I had to consider that he might have a 9, but it was much more likely that he had one of a bevy of possible draws. Also now I had a flush draw and a gut shot. I fired out $75 and got called fairly quickly. The river was the 3 of spades completing the front door flush draw and my opponent checked again. I shut it down because - Say it with me - These Guys Hate To Fold! To my surprise my opponent rolled over JJ! What the? This is probably one I could have lost a little less with. My turn bet sizing was off. With $140 in the pot I should have bet $120 if I wanted to blow him off a draw and if I wasn't going to try to do that, then I should have just checked it back.
At the end of the second hour I was stuck almost $900. Did I really just have a -$1250 hour? Had it only been an hour? I had to look back at my notes to see just what the hell happened and if I had done anything really egregious.
I did finally make a few hands I could bet for value.
On the first I got red KK again and Mr. I Got There called my raise to $25! What I should have thought was "Great! I should get action from this guy." What I thought instead was a very amateurish thing to think. I thought (in not these exact words)"Oh sweet lord, I'm never folding this hand against this guy and if he makes something I'm totally screwed and I'm going to lose my shit." The flop was 8 5 4 with two spades and he folded to my bet of $40.
On the second I got KQ in the big blind and facing 3 calls in from of me I made it $25 to go. As expected they all called. The flop came down K 8 4 with to clubs and I bet out $75. They all folded. Bastards! Where is that suspicious guy with 87 that I need to pay me off?
On the third I threw in $3 to call with K3 of diamonds on the button 4 way. The flop came down K 5 3 and the cutoff bet $10. My gut reaction was that he was betting, but didn't really like it. I just called and the small blind called as well. The turn was a Q, the cutoff bet $20 into the $45 pot and I raised it to $60. Both of my opponents folded. Shit!
After 3 hours, other than the have with the AA, I didn't really have a hand that played out how I wanted. When I missed or had second best, I got called. When I made something, my opponents managed to find a fold. Sometimes this is indicative of being over matched or easily readable, but half these guys didn't know their ass from a hole in a the ground and there is just no way they were putting tight reads on me.
In the end I lost $938 on the night. I'm still winning $1,342 for the project over 29.5 hours.