|Image grabbed from Caesar's website: https://www.caesars.com/horseshoe-baltimore/casino/poker|
I arrived at the 'shoe on Friday at 10pm - ahead of PPP who was finishing up his supper at a fancy restaurant (because he's, you know, a very fancy man). I put my and PPP's names down on the list (it was around 5 deep but the poker room was packed) and got my lay of the land. The place is very bright in comparison to MDL - lots of bright decor, tons of overhead lighting, and overall glitzy. I was surprised at how big the place is - right next to the M&T Stadium (where the NFL Ravens play) and down the street from Camden Yards (where the MLB Orioles play). Parking was a snap - I parked on the 3rd floor in the parking garage and walked literally right into the casino. With the additional 10 miles of driving, it was probably exactly equal in time spent door to door as compared with MDL.
Anyway, the big difference at Horseshoe is the table stakes - it's a 1/3 spread instead of 1/2 - with a Mississippi straddle (which is a straddle open to all positions). I both love & hate the Mississippi straddle - I hate when it's done to me, but love when I can impose it on others. I've always found the standard UTG straddle to be mox nix; simply an action creation tool. However, the button / cutoff straddle is somewhat of a game changer; acting last for each street really allows the user to impose a world of hurt to all those who call out of position.
Both PPP & I were called for open seats with 10 minutes (different tables), and before I even sat down to play my first hand, I witnessed a tattooed middle-aged "tough guy" (i.e. muscular, crew cut hair, tshirt, etc.) get it all in on the flop with K2 vs. 86 against a camouflaged country guy on a K 8 8 board only to suckout with a K on the river and scoop a $600 pot. Wow! Good table! I sat down (didn't need to post) and was dealt AJo in late position. I open raised to $15 (no limpers) and got 2 callers, an older foreign man on the BTN (had an accent but was wearing a Delaware Park sweatshirt, so a local) and the BB. Flop came down 2 2 8 or some such uncoordinated blank board. A cbet of $30 took it down and I was +$30 to start the night.
Within the next 15 hands, a player busted in spectacular fashion (there were 2 all ins within the 5-6 hands - again, good table!) and I texted PPP to come join me, throwing my card as a marker to lock up the newly vacated seat. No sooner than PPP sits down, I'm dealt QTo in the SB. I complete my option with 4 other players and the flop comes Q 7 2 (monotone). Over the years, QT has been my bane of existence in the live poker setting, always being bested; every time I put money in with QT (either with a PF raise, or hitting top pair), I inevitably get slaughtered by the river. However, with this hand and this table from what I've seen so far, I'm definitely betting my top pair. Undoubtedly someone will come along with a random 6 or 2, and I want to get value. I open for $15 and get called in 2 spots; ~$60 pot (immediately to my left middle aged guy & tough guy on my immediate right, the BTN).
Turn is 5 (putting 2 clubs on the board) and I lead for $45. Middle aged guy to my left (who turns out to be a competent player) snap folds and tough guy raises to $100 in a very confident manner. I stop & think for awhile... given my prior 15(!!!!!) hands that I have on him, I've worked up an image of him in my mind that he's loose / aggressive, and doesn't seem all that intelligent. He clearly doesn't value hands properly - TP is good enough to go all in, and more importantly he's PF raised a few of the 15 hands (an off-normal amount of times to be believable). He's not exhibiting any classic signs of a monster tell (i.e. labored breathing) but he's put on an air of confidence.
My thoughts at this point are the following:
- He didn't raise PF; not that I can exclude AQ / KQ / QJ / 77 / 22 / 55 but it's somewhat less likely because he didn't raise PF. He could show up with a wonky 2 pair hand like 2 suited cards (what really had me stuck was a Q 5, but given that I had a Q, and the Q was not a club, that leaves only 1 precise combo of Q 5 possible - which is still not out of the realm of possibilities).
- I'm probably ahead here, and if I am indeed ahead, I'm ahead by a lot - if he has a second or third pair, then I'm in a 88/12 situation, and if he shows up with a worse Q, I'm in a 94/6 situation.
- Is there a point in raising all-in? If I raise all-in, it'll close out all of his bluffs, and though he's likely to call with worse Q's, he could have better Q's (2 pair combos). In other words, I feel like there's many better hands he calls with but far less is he calling with worse hands.
My patience is somewhat rewarded with the Tc, putting a Q 7c 2 5c Tc backdoor flush possibility, giving me far more confidence in my hand, but completing 1 original draw (89). Executing to plan, I check and he puts out $200 which I snap (I had $17 behind from the prior first win, but kinda lost my head and forgot about it). I wait patiently for him to show and he tells me it was just a bluff... he tells me he thought since I was new to the table he could bluff me... I still waited for him to show and he shows Ks3s for complete air. I show my Queens up and scoop a nice ~double up for my first 20 minutes at the table.
Our showdown set the table up in arms for a bit - he had apparently been doing this type of thing all night and had been getting the better of everyone (as I had seen in the hand when I first joined the table). They couldn't believe that he bluffed off 3 stacks, they couldn't believe that I called him down with Q's as a new player, and they were just astounded at the whole run of the hand. I chuckled a bit inside, owing it all to the player who lost the trips to the suckout Kings full. I feel like the old Budweiser Real Men of Genius commercials - Thanks camo guy, this one's for you!