Friday, December 10, 2004

Posted by Johnnymac 5:03 PM

I just made it back to town after my business trip to New York this week. I was in town for the annual Coal Trading Association annual meeting. It was a week filled with entertaining and dinners and socializing with counterparties and brokers and as always was a lot of fun. On Tuesday night some guys and I skipped the parties and took a trip to Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut.

As you might recall from an earlier post of mine, I used to go to Foxwoods when I was in college in Boston and I had not been back since I moved to Houston 10 years ago and began playing poker. I was anxious to check it out and I have to say that it definitely beats the pants off of the Friendship Social Club, and in fact, the poker room is probably better than any room I have ever played in besides Mirage or Bellagio - it's HUGE and there are many limits available in a lot of different games. Perhaps my only complaint would be that it was very very loud in the room at times, but other than that, the decor, the service, and the quality of the room was just excellent. I wish I lived closer.

We decided to go on Tuesday night to play in the weekly $150 NL rebuy tournament. What a tournament! Unlimited $60 rebuys and either a single or double add-on after the first hour. I budgeted $330 for the tourney, but there were plenty of players who probably dumped $600 or more by the break. My strategy in a rebuy tourney is to play very tight for the first hour and allow the bad players to build the pot and only to start gambling for real after the break. Unfortunately, this strategy means that I need to catch cards sooner or later right after the break because I likely won't have a large stack to outlast the rapidly escalating blinds and unfortunately I never made a hand to get me started towards a successful result. Noentheless, I still think my $330 was a good investment because the winner was paid $24,000 on Tuesday and I'll gladly take those odds.

After I got busted out of the tournament, I found a seat in a very nice and juicy $5-10 limit game with a full kill. I am not ashamed to admit that playing medium stakes limit games is where I think my talent lies, anyway, and this particular structure was the "big game" at the FSC for a long time so I knew how to play it.

I won a couple of big pots early in this game and after a couple of hours I was in sight of attaining my goal of winning back my tournament money and getting to even for the night. Unfortunately, the hand that I thought would be the big winner to get me there turned out to be the big loser that took most of my profit.

I was dealt KK in early position and raised into a player at the end of the table who had won a large pot and was in the kill blind. He and one other player called my raise and the flop came 8-8-4, not great but at least there was no Ace, which is typically my luck with KK. I checked to see where I stood and the board checked around. I caught my third K on the turn and filled up (woo woo!) and then check raised when the player in the middle bet. The Kill Man just called my raise and the initial bettor (a good player) folded. The River came up blank and at this point I was sure I had the best hand so I bet and was then surprisingly raised by the Kill Man. I then reraised and he in turn reraised me again, so I stopped and thought about it.

When he initially raised me I wasn't really surprised because I figured that my hand was sufficiently disguised enough to where he he likely thought I was holding only one King - say, AK or KQ. And if he was holding trips or even K8, a reraise would be understandble. But the way he had quickly reraised me the second time made me nervous, so after a little reflection, I only called his raise and completed the $100 bet.

"You have 88, don't you sir?" I asked. He nodded his head and turned over his cards.

He had flopped quads and played it so expertly that when I thought I was luring him, I was only setting a trap for myself. He was lucky that I had made a hand strong enough to play with him, but nothing else about it was bad luck or what I would call a bad beat. He had a playable hand and was defending his Kill Blind against what looked like an obvious attempt at a steal from me. Then, when I was trying to either slowplay my hand on the flop or at least give myself a chance to get out if someone had the third 8, he had his brake pedal floored trying to give me a chance to catch up. He played it very very well. After the hand was over I wasn't really all that upset because honestly, there was nothing to be upset about. It wasn't a bad beat because the other player played his hand correctly and I never really had the best of it, despite the strength of my hand.

(an actual bad beat in that situation would have been another King on the river, but it would have been a bad beat for him)

I have been playing holdem now for more than 5 years and many times I have had the hypothetical conversation with someone about how a PP full house (as opposed to a 1 card FH) isn't technically the nuts but that the odds of being up against case quads is so unlikely in that situation that the possibility can effectively be ignored. I had never seen such a thing happen until Tuesday night and I just happened to be in the pot and not simply an observer.

So to wrap up, Foxwoods was great. And as far as that specific hand goes, as TJ would say, "That's just poker!"

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Random thoughts from a lawyer, an accountant, a commodities trader, an ex-Marine and a WSOP Main Event money finisher that don't know as much as they wish they did...



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