Monday, February 23, 2015

Meh-interesting hand and Baltimore Horseshoe recap

Image grabbed from Caesar's website:
As the Poker Barrister, Pete P. Peters, talked about on his blog, he & I met up for the first time [ever] to play a little poker.  It turns out that he lives less than 5 miles from me, but it's only taken about 4 years and ~40 miles from our respective houses to meet up and introduce ourselves in person.  Pete (PPP henceforth) convinced me to put the additional ~10 miles in to go up to Baltimore to play instead of stopping at Maryland Live! - a decision which I was very happy about in retrospect.

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.
Given the above, I opt to just flat his raise with the plan of check / calling all rivers.

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!


  1. Do you plan to return there? Did you check out their weekend tournaments?

    1. Yes. I definitely plan on going up again. I looked it up on google maps - the delta difference in mileage is 7 miles door to door. I think it's faster to go to Horseshoe than MDL. Perhaps PPP & I can carpool if he doesn't stay overnight... I don't know about their weekend tournaments, but I think they have WSOP circuit events coming through there. Though the poker room is not comparatively large (25 tables to MDL's 52), they have a huge conference room in the basement that can support a large tournament structure.

      For their weekend tourneys, the schedule is posted online:

    2. I actually think it's easier to get to the shoe. You avoid all the mall traffic and lights by MDL!. Plus, the parking lot alone saves you five minutes . . .

      As for tourney's . . . I believe their Saturday starts at 11:00 and is $340. It seems like first place is usually $5,500 to $7,000. Vook and his "Wizards" played it last month, and could give more info . . . .

  2. Joel should explain to stealthmunk why its NOT in ur best interest for a guy to straddle every hand hes not blind and have u act first almost every hand. (in the RTP thread a few pages back). he swears i should welcome the guy putting dead money in the pot. and i said its both him and me that get hurt big time and the benefit on those acting last. he claims everyone but the straddler benefits in a full ring game and i swore the guys always acting first and second are getting hurt big time, and NOT benefitting. someone better than me should explain it to him on RTP

    1. Tony, I don't necessarily have an issue with the straddle. All things being equal, there is no inherent advantage to a straddle since all positions / players have the same equal opportunity. In fact, I would argue that the standard UTG straddle is great for everyone else except the straddler since he's put in dead money effectively as a super Big Blind.

      That said, straddle is the fact that it doubles the stakes of the table. Essentially, it makes the BB 2x or more (when there's an uncapped straddle amount). Therefore, if there's a straddle, each player must "limp" the new BB size (or raise in increments of the new BB size) - reducing full stacks (originally 100 BB) to 50 BB. Realizing that fact, you're not playing nearly as deep as you were prior to the straddle - and it makes the table a lot more costly to play. I believe a professional's advantage lies the deeper the stacks are - the straddle shifts the advantage more in favor of the worse. Look, it comes down to this: I sit down at a 1/2 or 1/3 table and want to play those stakes. If it's going up to a 1 / 3 / 6 table, then I may as well switch over to 2/5.

      Same goes for the Mississippi straddle, but when people start straddling the BTN, me, as a smart player, needs to do the same to even the advantage out. A smart player would be hammering the limpers every time, capturing the dead money from the SB / BB and other limpers along the way, full well knowing they're going to control the action from the PF forward to the end of the hand.

      In effect: There's a $6 Mississippi straddle on the BTN and between the blinds & open limpers, there are 4 people in the pot when action comes to the BTN. There's now $24 in the pot where there would have normally been $12 - and the BTN's raise should be far larger - precisely double - the normal raise. It makes it much less profitable to limp hands knowing that that raise is coming in. But again, there's no strategic advantage since everyone else has the same opportunity to straddle, thus reducing the game to a 50BB 1 / 3 / 6 game.

      Make sense? I feel like I'm babbling a little....

    2. Thanks angerisagift! I never really laid out my thoughts on straddling before, but this is the way I see it and why I don't like it.

  3. 1) PPP: "He's a dandy. He's a real fancy boy." lol

    2) You must learn how to properly play Q-10. I believe that Coach and I could teach you. Don't ask Rob.

    3) If you straddle, you should have a good supply of animals nearby.

    That is all.

  4. i am waitng 4 the snow to melt, so P3 and PM can go drag racing and drifting comp at the local racetrack

    1. I'm about to purchase a roll bar extension for my car so I can be track legal. The antirollbars in the Porsche are fixed loops that don't extend above the head when wearing a helmet, so the tracks require rollbar extensions. $400 from craigslist.

  5. Well, here's to you Mr. Male Football Cheerleader!
    TPM and PPP - seems like both MDL and the Shoe have some wild games. Are both pretty much even as far as the level of difficulty? I'm down in VA, thinking of making some weekend trips soon.

    1. I'd say that given my 1 data point, the Shoe is easier than MDL.

  6. PPP and PM finally meet.

    Did he show you the diamond lounge at the Shoe? Hopefully one of these days I can meet him too.

    Lot of exciting tournaments coming up at Live and Shoe in the next one month. But, you don't like the tournament circuit that much.


    1. I didn't get to see the Diamond Lounge :-(. PPP offered, but I did not accept, wanting to get in some time at the table because I had a short time to begin with... Next time, perhaps?

      I actually do like the tournaments, but not for playing in them - more so that they bring the early losers out to the cash tables, on tilt, and wanting to donk off some dollars! I feel like such a fish at the tourney tables because I have no patience when I get down to <20BB. I don't like the feeling of playing short stacked...


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