If you've been following my extended series of trip reports, you might recall that I have been having a rough time this year (could it have anything to do with moving up to $10&20? Naahhh -- must be the variance). Anyway, I decided to make a quick run down to AC on the Saturday before leaving for SF in order to build up my bankroll for the "wild and crazy California games (tm)".
I had planned to stop at Trump Plaza, since there was one report they had opened a poker room there, but the traffic was impossible, so I headed down to the Sands (Can anyone testify that they have actually seen poker at the Plaza? I suspect the poster was referring to the Castle.) [The Plaza has never had a poker room.]
I have done very well at $5&10 stud at the Sands (they rarely spread hold'em), and this trip was no exception. I made $135 in 2 hours, the bulk of which came on the following hand. I got (J7)J to start, raising the bring-in to $5 and getting 2 or 3 callers. A 7 came on fourth street to give me two pair, down to one opponent. On 5th street, he paired his door card and bet into me. I raised to test for a set and he just called, which gave me confidence. On sixth, I paired *my* doorcard and the 8's bet into me! He paid off my raise an my bet on the end. I probably should have stayed in this soft game, but I wanted to see if Alan (aida) was at Resorts.
On the way out, I dropped by the new cardroom at the Claridge. It is very nice -- 8 tables on a raised floor at one end of the casino separated from the rest of the area by a rail. There is plenty of room between the tables & I would like to play there, but they only had three $1-5 tables going on a Saturday afternoon -- I wonder if they'll make it? [Nope, they folded after a few months.]
I also stopped by the local version of the Gambler's Book Club and picked up their only copy of McEnvoy's new book on tournament play. Nice reading material for my upcoming long plane ride.
Well, Alan was nowhere to be found at Resorts, but there were plenty of games going. Resorts has been dwindling, but they were almost full on Saturday afternoon. They've cut down from 25 to 18 tables, which makes sense I guess. They had $10&20, $5&10 and two $3&6 hold'em games going -- maybe hold'em is coming back at Resorts. I really like playing there better than the Taj, primarily because I can get *good* food served at the table (and it's almost free with the $5 daily comp). [Alas, the Resorts card room is now but a memory.]
After waiting 45 minutes, I was about to give up and go to the Taj when a seat opened up at $10&20 stud. Stud is not my usual game (especially above $5&10), but the game looked pretty good, so I decided to give it a try. Big mistake. "Skinny Mike" was on a multi-hour rush. He is one of the more dour players I've ever played with --- wonder what he's like when he's losing? He continued to pull amazing river cards, running over the whole table. He wasn't in that many pots, but when he was he got what he needed.
I didn't write down any hands from this period -- I don't think I was involved in any big ones. I just bled continually, watching my California stake erode hour after hour. The frustrating thing was I thought this was a good table -- I just couldn't get the cards to take advantage of it. After 6 hours I broke into my 8th C-note and started thinking about all the play I was going to miss in CA. Finally, the tide turned. I made a small pot when my A's in the hole caught running A's on 5th & 6th -- no one called my bet but I showed down my quads anyway. Soon after I got dealt (89)T suited (diamonds) and made it $10 to go, getting 3 or four callers (no respect for a loser, despite the quads). Fourth street was a 9, giving me a enough improvement to keep me betting and giving the "illusion of action." 5th street was the Kd, and I still have two callers. 6th street I finally made a hand with the Ad came. Two callers to the river & I pulled a very nice pot.
Still stuck, I decided to keep playing when the table broke and I got a seat at the other $10&20 stud table. I watched in amazement on the first hand when a player two to my left called to the river with a pair of 6's. Maybe I was at the wrong table all night. I finally got back to even with rolled up 3's. I made running Q's on 4th and 5th and the player to my left made a good laydown of his trip 6's. However, "Mr. Calling Station" paid me off to the river with his probable two pair. Unfortunately, he then left to play BJ & the game broke (wonder why? :-).
By now it was 5:30 AM. I decided to wait until dawn. Anyway, I hadn't played hold'em this whole trip and a seat was open at $5&10. Unfortunately, I was ice cold. I won my first small pot after an hour. Then I flopped a set of 7's with 97x of clubs on the board. I played it fast, hoping a flush would let me know. A 9 came on the turn, and the flush worry soon departed. Unfortunately, I got action on the river and got shown quad 9's -- dead from the get-go.
Oh, well, I still had a reasonable stake for my trip & the pickings would be easy in CA (armed with LeeJ's book :-) right?
This was a business trip, so I only had a limited time to play poker. Fortunately, I was less than half-an-hour from the Oaks at Emeryville, which had been recommended by several r.g'ers. Despite warnings that the area around the club was rough, I didn't feel uncomfortable going there, though I did use the free (+tip) valet parking the first time.
The Oaks has something like 20 poker tables and 8 or 10 pai gow & such on the main floor. There is also a small room with two high-limit ($15&30, $30&60) hold'em tables and another room with several lowball and pan tables. The main room has hold'em from $1&2 to $6&12. I didn't pay much attention to the stud limits ($2&4 and up?). The ceiling is not too low, but the circulation is such that it seems quite smoky. There is a non-smoking section in the attached restaurant (but no no-smoking poker tables), but smokers do walk through with there lit cig's so you can't really escape the smoke. [California has since gone non-smoking -- what a dream to play without smoke!]
The $6&12 table was right by the rail, so I got to watch while I waited. The action didn't appear too tough, but it wasn't as loose-passive as I was hoping. There was often a raise preflop, and only 4 or 5 usually saw the flop. Despite the $8500 jackpot, people were folding at about the rate of AC $5&10.
There are jackpots for most games/limits at the Oaks. They use a "rolling pool" method. There is a cap on the max amount of the jackpot ($7K for $3&6, $15K for $6&12). This minimum jackpot is half the max, but when one is hit, if the pool is large enough it might start out above the min (or even at the max). The explanation of using a max jackpot was to keep the money in the game (cf. recent articles in _Card Player_). The jackpot is relatively easy to hit: any A's full beaten by quads, both cards must play in both hands. The split is 60% loser/20% winner/20% rest of table). The downside is that there is a (live) drop on the button for every hand $1 at $3&6 and **$2** at $6&12. There are also time charges ($4/half-hour at $3&6 and $5/half-hour at $6&12), so it is considerably more expensive to play here than comparable games in AC.
I only played 1.5 hours that first night --- I was, after all, working during the -long- days. A jackpot was hit while I was there (on the adjacent $3&6 table). No especially interesting hands -- I dropped about $50 at $6&12.
My second night I tried the $6&12 waters again. My first playable hand was KK on the button. I skillfully managed to suck along the one opponent who stayed with me past the trash flop for a couple of extra big bets. At the end, he turned up *his* KK, expecting me to have A's. This hand was a bad omen for the night. Almost none of my playable hands (AQ twice, JJ) held up. The only winner I have in my notes was 96off in the BB which won a small pot when my 6's tripped on the turn.
After 3 hours (I had planned to quit after 2 -- gotta learn to quit stuck), I got paged. I had contacted quite a few r.g'ers in the area (the internet is a wondrous thing). The first to find me was Brian Goetz. He was playing $2&4 stud, so I sat in with him for an hour to chat. I started off with pocket J's, making set on 4th street. This held up, but I think it's the only thing that did. My notes show my 4 card (AA)JJ hand getting cracked by a flush. I managed to drop 10 big bets in an hour -- at least it was $2&4 and not $20&40 :-).
After the previous night's disaster, I was ready to see if Lee J's advice would apply better to $3&6. I bought in for $60 instead of the $100 I would normally take at this limit.
My first playable hand was red kings under the gun. This is the only good hand that served me at all well the previous night, and I played it fast, getting 3 callers to my raise. The flop was all spades, but no A, at least. I bet out, hoping to take the pot. One caller. The nasty turn card was another spade. Oh well, might as well bet -- he called (sigh). River was a blank, check, bet, call and he shows me JJ, one was a spade. Am I a fish or what?
OK, I break out a C-note. This game looks beatable, although I have to say that $3&6 at the Oaks plays more like $5&10 in AC -- this is *not* no-foldem hold'em. A few hands later I pick up 5c4c on the button. About 5 call the blinds, so I call. The flop is 2h3h7c. It's bet into me and I raise (blush). The turn is a beautiful 6c, giving me the nut straight and a strflush draw (superblush). I am the bettor again and I get 3 callers. River is another club -- uh-oh. It's checked to me, I bet and get two callers to pay off my baby flush. So, play a group 1 up front and get cracked -- play a group 6 on the button and win. C'est la vie.
Later, I get QQ and they hold up for once. By now I've begun a conversation with the (good) player on my right, Pete Dittman (sp?), whose father used to do the tournament circuit (anyone know him?). As we chat, I catch 8d7d in late position -- I guess this is my "road hand," although I'm not sure just what that means. Anyway, I raise and get 2 or 3 callers. The flop is 7c6d2h. I open the action and get 2 callers. Turn is 9d & they all fold to my pair & open-ended strflush draw. I flip 'em up and ask the dealer to show the river -- it's the Ad.
I win a few more small pots (including a 4-way split when a diamond flush was on the board and no one held one). I cash out up $88 -- not a big win but a big improvement.
This was supposed to be a work day, but my meeting got cancelled, so I headed to the Oaks after lunch. While waiting for a table, I sat in a $1&2 (yikes!) hold'em game. In half an hour I made a straight with 98off and filled up with QToff. Wow -- winning at the rate of 13 Big Bets/hour ($13/30 min :-) despite the rake!!
I finally got a seat at $6&12, but the table was tough (again). A jackpot was just missed at our table when the board hit a 3rd A on the turn. Someone held JJ and another player had the case A, but his kicker was too small :-(. Meanwhile ANOTHER jackpot was hit at the adjacent $3&6 table. I dropped a C-note in 3/4 an hour and decided to take a seat at $3&6.
My notes show I played a bit over an hour, but I think it must have been a couple of hours longer. Anyway, I was getting no cards. When I got paged by Kevan Garrett I decided it was an excellent time to get up (down $200+). We had a couple of burgers (not great, but filling) and chatted for a while. Kevan has a relative (brother? Gotta keep better notes) in NJ & I hope he can go to AC with me sometime -- I'm sure we can find some comparable burgers at the Taj snack bar!
After a nice break, we went back to the poker room. They started a new $2&4 hold'em table, and we helped fill it. We were joined by Kevan's friend Shelly (sp?) who is just getting into casino poker but who doesn't surf the net (or maybe he lurks). I enjoyed the conversation, but the cards weren't kind -- down 5 Big Bets after an hour.
Note: On the weekend after our meeting, Kevan won an entry to TARGET -- may he go far!
I have never played lowball, but I did read "Justin Case"'s chapter on the game in _Percentage Hold'em_. I watched the $20 game in amazement as multiple people took two card draws. I decided to be cautious and eventually got a seat in the $6 game. This game has one $1 and one $3 blind. A caller must complete the bet to $6. The bets after the draw are $6. This game is probably about comparable in "size" to $2&4 hold'em since there are only two $6 betting rounds.
The $6 game has a $1500 jackpot for a 64 beaten by a wheel --- several players seemed to be playing for it. There were many 2 card draws, a few 3 card draws and I even saw a 4 card draw once. I played pretty conservatively. I only tried to snow once, and I had to give it up when I was reraised by a good player.
I was in the big blind when the player to my left came back after a food break. He posted $6. I asked the dealer if the bet was live -- like a straddle. She said "she didn't think so." I should have pressed the point, but no one else spoke up. The player three to my right made it $12 and I called with my 4 card 76. The "straddler" made it $24. Only now did I learn about a "kill" pot! (FYI, this is sort of like a straddle, except that it also doubles the betting amount for that hand.) I think the original caller (not raiser, as I had thought) called all-in & I called. The "straddler" took one card, and bet out. I had caught an 8 on my draw to make an 876. I called to see his 875. I don't think my play would have been different if I had understood the kill rule, but I was ticked at losing $36 without being given the correct information.
Despite the kill-pot fiasco, I was still up $25 at lowball when I got yet another page, this time from Mark Stantz. When I found him in the bar he was slamming down Miller Lite and Grand Marniers in his usual style. I had met Mark before in AC -- it was great to see him again. I joined him for *one* beer (jazbo will not be entering any drinking contests at BARGE :-).
Mark had recently arrived (it was about 1AM) and was ready to get into the $15&30 game after sufficient lubrication. He wanted me to join him (though I have never played above $10&20), but my meager reserves weren't enough for a reasonable buy-in. Mark graciously offered (I would have never asked) to stake me for half the $500 buy-in. We agreed to split evenly on the net gain or loss.
One thing about moving up in limit, especially playing with someone you respect, and ESPECIALLY when playing with their money -- it makes you play your "A" game. Despite having put in a full day at the tables, I was pumped up. The $500 buy-in gave me a full rack, which was about the median stack at the table. Playing conservatively, I still bled away much over $200 before I started hitting my hands.
I got into a great staccato rush(tm) [lots of good hands intermixed with clear folds], catching several big pairs (AA held up, KK held up, AA bought the blinds). If I could have gotten cards like these at $6&12, I am sure I would have won there, but I was happy to see them at $15&30 :-). I got enough respect that I was able to steal the blinds with hands like 76s a few times. On one hand I had AKoff. The flop came down 2-suited rags, and I got one caller when I bet out. The turn was the third suited card, and I got bet into. At this point, the long playing hours were showing because I couldn't remember the suit of my A. I was forced to peek, which I know is a horrible tell. As luck would have it, I had the A in suit, so I called & the river gave me the nut flush. The bettor, an oriental kid, paid me off anyway.
Strangely enough, this same scenario repeated itself later, also against the same kid. Once again, a third suited card fell on the turn, and once again I had to check the suit of my A (I've forgotten the kicker, but it was decent). This time when the flush card came on the river (why is it sometimes you never complete a hand and other times they always seem to be there?) I didn't get paid off :-(.
The time charge at $15&30 is $7/half-hour, which is more than the $6 in AC, but at least there is no jackpot drop. Though I didn't track my number of pots won, it must have been around 6/hour since I toked away my $3 change almost every time before the next collection. I guess they deal around 40 hands/hour, so I was getting more than my fair share (we were usually 8 or 9 handed), especially for a tight player.
At 5AM I had about $1600 sitting in front of me --- more than I've ever stacked before. The time collection came just after I had paid the blinds, so I decided to play for one more half-hour. Big mistake. It seems the poker gods were offended by my decision to leave the altar, for all the breaks began to go the other way. The worst hand was 44, which I got to play cheap. The flop was QQ9. It was checked around and so I got to see the 4 on the turn. I went 4 or 5 raises with a guy I figured for AQ -- probably two too many. The river was a 9 -- if my read was right, I should give it up, but the pot was so huge I decided to pay it off. He showed down Q4 -- can you say "drawing dead"?
There is one other hand I misplayed horribly. I had 85suited (gumbo!) and for some insane reason (put it down to too many hours at the table), decided to push it. The flop came down ATx & I took a shot at it. Only one caller, and he seemd hesitant. If I was sharper, I would have realized he was a calling station & given up the bluff. However, I kept reading him as on the verge of folding, so I kept betting when a K and a Q showed up on the turn and river. He finally gave a crying call to show Ax making one pair. Arggh! Maybe I'll learn when to give up a bluff from this lesson.
I also lost with AA when Mark hit two pair on the flop holding KJ, but I still cashed out up $600 (dropping $500 in half-an-hour, gaack!). After splitting with Mark, I made $300, which gave me enough to play at Bay 101 the next day. Mark hadn't hit his hands all night, so my good run of cards help replenish his bankroll.
Mark asked that I comment on the difference between $6&12 and $15&30. You would think that more than doubling the limit would make a huge difference in the games. However, I saw several players that visitied both limits. The bigger game was tighter and more aggressive, but I didn't find it dramatically different than $6&12. A few more players ususally saw the flop at $6&12 (partly due to the jackpot, maybe), and I think there was less bluffing. As a result of this session with Mark, I now feel pretty comfortable about trying any limit that I have the bankroll for.
I slept late after playing all night, getting up just in time to make the check out time for my hotel. I then headed across the Bay Bridge and down to San Jose. The weather had been miserable (rain, thunderstorms, even hail!), but this day was bright and clear. It was a pleasant drive down 101. I did miss the exit onto First Street (the signs indicated I was still several miles from San Jose, so I didn't know that it was *that* First Street that I wanted). I quickly realized my error when I saw the Big Pink Building on my left, by it's not so easy making a U-turn on a California Freeway!
I checked into the Summerfield Suites (recommended by several r.g'ers, thanks!) which is just across the parking lot from Bay 101. This is a nice all-suites motel and has the added bonus that they have cheap weekend rates (just the opposite of AC!), I guess because most of their business is from the Silicon Valley crowd. It was well worth the $87/night (including the usual extra stick-it-to-the-tourist tax). I thinks its $150+ during the week, but Bay 101 has a deal with another nearby hotel (Ramada?) that's pretty good. Check with Bay 101 at 408-451-8888 for current info.
I was still tired from my late night and the drive, so I rested a bit before heading across the parking lot. Bay 101 is a beautiful, new facility. Two big rooms, maybe 40 tables of poker and about the same of pai gow, etc. The ceilings are lofty and the smoke gets sucked up quickly.
Bay 101 has hold'em at $3&6, $6&12, $9&18, and up. I think all the games use chips so that the small bet is three chips and the big bet is six (i.e., $3&6 uses $1 chips, $9&18 uses $3 chips, etc.). Lots of people say that using this style (three chips for the small bet) encourages action because the pots look huge, but I'm not convinced -- I don't think the pot are really bigger, they just look bigger. The chips are nice & new --- I think they have a different composition than AC chips --- either they are cleaned frequently or they just don't pick up grundge the way AC chips do. The colors are non-standard -- the $1 chips are blue, the $5's yellow and the $20's black. I snagged a shiny blue $1 chip to add to my collection.
Despite my good result at $15&30, I decided to start slow in this new environment, so I was happy to take a $3&6 seat when it opened. I didn't realize it at the time, but it was a non-smoking table --- I think they try to keep a non-smoking table going at each limit. As has been my recent custom, I start out slowly bleeding away my stack to $30 of my $140 buy-in. Then I got the following hand.
I'm one to the right of the button with Kd8d. I see the flop of Qd7d5c with four others. It's checked to me, I bet and get a raise. Since I was almost all-in, I decide to get full value from my draw and reraise. It is then capped by the raiser with four of us staying to see the blank turn card. The raiser bets & all call. The river is a diamond, I bet it, get two callers, and take down the $100+ pot.
I made a few other good hands: ATs made the flush on the river to crack a set, AA won uncontested. After three hours I was up $250+. Quite nice for $3&6, thank you. Looks like LeeJ had this game in mind! Just before I got up, I found out the dealer was jokerr from r.g! I enjoyed playing with you Joe --- hope to see you at BARGE.
By now it was 7PM and time to leave for the home game I had been lucky enough to be invited to. I headed out, but my car was nowhere to be found in the brightly lit parking lot. I was sure that I knew exactly where I parked the red rental, but it just wasn't there. Having the car stolen didn't distress me as much as missing the home game! I finally flagged down a security car to ask if they had many problems with theft. She asked me for the license number and helped me look. After a few minutes, there it was! Someone had repainted my card gray while I played!! Oh, it's just the sodium lights --- I see --- thank you ma'am.
The home game is a bit unusual in that it is pot limit, but with a $40 cap. I'd never played any kind of pot limit before, but I figured it could be THAT much more dangerous than $15&30.
This particular game featured many r.g notables: John Coker, Michael Hall, Roy Hashimoto, Lee Jones, Ken Kubey and Martin Veneroso. There were at least two other players (Keith and Vance) that I don't think are r.g'ers. Even if I didnt't win any $$ I knew I would get some great experience. [BTW, a small game like this could easily be swamped with requests by thousands of r.g'ers visiting the area, so I won't give any details about how to contact the host.] I felt very honored to be invited.
The game is dealer's choice (from a limited list), but mostly hold'em
and hi-lo stud. Shortly after I got there, a game was called that I
had only heard rumors about: Crazy Pineapple. This is like hold'em except:
1) it's hi-lo,
2) there is a bug in the deck (a joker than can be used to pair an Ace, fill a straight or flush, or act as a low card), and
3) you are dealt 3 cards to start, one of which must be thrown after the flop but before the turn.
(I understand that "Sane Pineapple" requires you to toss a card before the flop.) Well, it seems that I got AA or A-bug about one hand in three. I was quickly up over $250 -- are these guys great hosts or what? I even threw away a hand I should played: I had 6-bug-x with a flop of 577. I had a great expectation of drawing a straight, but somehow I didn't like it. It turns out the straight didn't make, so I was lucky on this hand too.
After that great start, I more-or-less held even for the next few hours as we played hold'em, stud, lowball and even omaha (I think). "Roy the Rock" tried a snow in lowball, but got caught.
Then hi-lo stud was called several times. This proved my undoing, probably because I was playing too loose with my big stack (I must admit I felt a bit guilty about taking such a big chunk of change -- it seemed ungracious of me -- but they rightly pointed out that they would be happy to take *my* money). The most costly hand was when I started with (A2s)5. The turn was a 5, giving me a pair, a 3 flush, and a 3 card wheel. I raised the pot getting heads up with Vance holding (xx)76. Alas, the next card was a brick for me and a low card for Vance. I should have just given it up at this point for the $40 bet. I stubbornly took the sixth street card, the 6 of my suit. At this point, I think I have a call with so many outs, but the river was no help. I paid off the river bet, hoping the 5's were good enough, but he paired his 6's to take it all. After a couple of more losses, including one in which I'm pretty sure LeeJ bluffed me out (except I didn't have a hand either :-) I ended up the session down $8, but I still felt like a winner.
There were no hold'em seats open when I got to Bay 101 about 10AM, I decided to try some $4&8 stud. The ante is $1 in this game, and half of that is dropped immediately --- a murderous rake. I made three good hands in 3.5 hours (rolled up 3's, a flush that got there, and 9's full of 8's made on the river). Despite this, the antes ate me up & I was exactly even when I realized that the 94 WSOP was on ESPN. I rushed over to the motel (too noisy for Dick Van Patten's commentary in the bar at the Bay), but only caught the last 15 minutes -- I thought it came on at 2PM instead of 1PM.
I headed back to the Bay after a long break. I signed up for $10-200 hold'em in the morning, but they never got a game goin. Finally, at 5:30PM, it went.
I've played a bit of spread limit in the past, but never $10-200! This game is really no-limit with $5 and $10 blinds and a $200 cap. (San Jose oridance prohibits bets over $200.) This game seems like a good way to try out no-limit with a reasonable amount of risk. The miniuum buy-in is only $200.
I buy in for $400--four stacks of bright yellow $5 chips. We start up with only 4 players. I get the BB on the first hand. On my left, Action An (a 50-something Asian) who bought in for $200 calls and Russ (as I'll call him) in the SB on my right raises $200! Yikes -- maybe I better find a seat at the $3&6. I fold my "curtin" (83off) and An calls all-in. Russ shows down Big Slick. He doesn't improve, and An rivers a J to win with J8off. Wow!
On the very next hand, we go through a similar sequence. I forget who put in the first $200 raise, but An is all-in again against Russ, this time $400 each. Russ has 77 and An has Q9off!. The flop has a 9 in it & a 7 doesn't come. Russ gets up, down $600 in two hands.
We have started to attract new players by now, so the game doesn't break. One new player I'll call Lance is three seats (but the second player) to my right. He has a dirty blond full beard, shoulder length blond hair in a page-boy style, wears a baseball cap, and uses one of those square black fans to ward off the smoke (maybe M'hall can place him from this description). Lance likes to kill pots, especially when he is on the button, by posting $20. This means any callers must come in for at least $20, and he gets the privilege of last action on the first betting round (i.e., he can raise after the blinds act).
With Russ gone, the game calms down (maybe Russ and An have a little history? :-). I win the blinds when I raise with TT, but otherwise just bleed away the blinds and an occasional call when I can see the flop for $10. My first action comes when I have 87off. I get to see the flop cheaply: T72 rainbow. Lance bets the pot (~$50) into me. I don't figure him for a T or a big pair, so I decide to try to buy it by raising $200. I'm a bit nervous and stare at the pot while Lance stares at me. Finally, I flick my eyes up into Lance's, and he calls all-in for $170 almost immediately. He has AJoff and doesn't catch a card, so I take down a nice pot. I bothers me when he says "I knew you wanted me to fold," which was an accurate read, even though he didn't (quite) have the odds for his call.
That pot puts me slightly up, which settles me down a lot. Some time later, I catch a flop of 872 rainbow while holding T9off. I'm heads up against Lance again, with about $60 in the pot. I overbet the pot with $100 and carefully keep my eyes on the pot while he deliberats. After a long pause, he throws his hand in saying "I'll give you credit this time." Maybe I can play this game after all!
The table is now filling up. I catch one big pair, with which I buy a small pot with a flop of T9x. The only other pair I see in this session is 55 (presto!), which would have taken down a $1000 pot if I had ridden it to make trips on the turn (ya gotta have faith!).
I can't recall the betting, but later I get to see a flop cheaply with KQoff. Again, I make a reasonable-sized bet at the pot but get two callers (NOT including Lance) with a flop of JTx rainbow. The turn is a wonderful 9 (the semi-bluffing stuff really works! :-). I get one caller (all-in) with my $200 bet. A bit later, I managed to catch ANOTHER straight on the turn holding T9off -- my hoard was now so large it took two rows of 5x20+ to stack it, even though one stack was half-black ($20 chips).
The next hand I get involved in is 98s in the BB. Three of us see the flop of T75, none of my suit. I make my customary semi-bluff of about $50, but the player behind me raises $200. The third player calls all-in for about $120. I think about this for a long while. There is about $450 in the pot, $200 to call. Somehow I think I have pot odds to call, but I now realize that I was planning to draw two cards for the straight, which would probably cost me another $120 (all the raiser had left). I was therefore risking $320 to win $570 -- not enough. Anyway, I "play the rush." Of course, the turn is a J to make my third straight draw in a row. The raiser pays off my last bet (I think he had two pair), and I win the side pot. I only split the main pot because the first all-in player also has 98s -- he had a free roll on me for the runner-runner flush!
Somewhere in here a young, dark-haired guy sits down on my right. I notice he has an unusual looking stack of twenty mostly-gray chips. When he breaks one of these to get $500 in small change I realize he had a $10K buy-in! Fortunately perhaps, he leaves us fairly quickly when a seat opens in $30&60 (or maybe $60&120). (After getting back from the trip I saw a post mentioning that Phil Helmuth calls Bay 101 home. I asked Abdul M'hall about this & he said "lots of guys buy in for $10K" so it might have been someone else --- on the other hand, maybe I got to experienc a few hands playing with a World Champion!)
After waiting patiently, I look down to see my road hand, 87s. I see the flop of 833 cheaply, giving me top pair. I'm not too worried about a 3 (or 33), so I bet the pot and get heads up with Lance (remember Lance?) again. The turn is another 8! Is this the mother of all rushes or what? Lance bets $100 into me and I raise $200. Again we go through the ritual of me staring into the pot, eventually glancing into his eyes, followed by his immediate call. The river is a A, and Lance bets his last $120. I call, of course, turning up my hand and saying "8's full". Lance takes his time, letting me enjoy another supposed victory before showing down K8s and taking half the pot. We made about $7 each after putting in more than $400 apiece!
After that close call (he was leading on the flop), I slow way down. When the blinds came around at 7PM, I decided to get up before I make a major mistake. Up $1100+ after less than two hours seems like a lot, but it's only 5.5 big bets. I also know I was extremely lucky to make so many draws -- I'm just happy the rush came at the biggest limit I've ever played.
I went for a nice Italian dinner at Sorrento's, recommended by the desk clerk at Summerfield Suites. It wasn't real close, but it was worth the drive, especially if you're real hungry -- I had an embarrassing amout of food left over.
I got back to Bay 101 around 9 PM and quickly found a seat at $4&8 stud next to Ken Kubey. I enjoyed chatting with Ken, but I really think this game is practically unbeatable with that rake. When a $6&12 hold'em seat opened up, I took it.
I did OK at $6&12 for an hour, but when my name was called for Hi-Lo Hold'em, I couldn't resist giving it a try. (BTW, this is one game that is PROHIBITED at the home game I played in.)
This game is played at the $3&6 level, which was fine with me. I didn't have the benefit of Michael Maurer's analysis, but I pretty much decided that AA, A2, A3 and Asuited were good hands. Big pairs also seemed playable unless the flop looked bad (an Ace or two low cards). I played conservatively with my $100 buy-in, oscillating between $75 and $125. I could never seem to catch a good flop, despite having lots of great starting hands (A2, A3s, etc). I never scooped a single pot (except a couple of small ones with no low) & it's hard to win in a hi-lo game if you don't scoop. Eventually, I bled my buy-in away and decided to pack it in since it was 2AM & I had a long flight the next day.
I don't have any hands to discuss, but there is one player that had an "interesting" style. He would buy-in for $20 (the minimum?), raise preflop and cap it if possible on almost any hand. He would usually be all-in on the flop (and would often have to rebuy after that). It seemed to me he played the game as a straight crap shoot --- try to get as much money on the table as possible and hope for the best. I know some of the other players capitalized on this bizarre strategy, but I was never lucky enough to have the right hand at the right time. I suspect his play affected me negatively because I had to pay a lot to see the flop with my good hands (which usually missed), and I had to fold a lot of marginal hands that might have paid off.