Thursday, June 14, 2018

A trip report from Nashua, NH (outside Boston, MA) and 2 hands

It’s been awhile since I’ve taken a business trip.  As my long term readers (are there even any readers anymore?) know, whenever I get the opportunity to go somewhere new, I’ll try to check out the local poker scene if there is one.  This past week, I had meetings outside of Boston, MA – around 20 minutes from Nashua, NH.  Checking around on the typical sites (pokeratlas, 2p2, etc.), I found a card room that was recently fined, and a continuing card room in operation.  Unwilling to go to a place that was potentially shut down, I opted to check out the Boston Billiard Club & Casino (BBCC).

Before I get into the details, I will give a little background on the New Hampshire poker scene, or more broadly, the NH gambling scene.  I’m not sure when NH received the legal precedent to open card rooms and offer casino gaming, but it’s a more recent (within the past few years) turn of events.  As it currently stands, the maximum bet for the casino is $4, meaning you can play blackjack all day at $4 / hand!  That limit is apparently increasing in the near future, to $10.  On that same vein, the poker room is beholden to the max bet rule; the maximum big blind is $4, meaning the biggest hold’em game offered is $2/4 no limit (none of which were running on a Monday night).  FWIW, besides the $1/2 NLHE game I played, the BBCC was spreading a $1/3 Omaha game.
As it turns out, in order to legally offer casino gaming, the casino operator undertook a concession to contribute most of the proceeds to charity.  That said, other than a sign on the door upon arrival, the feature charity (which changes daily) is completely obscured to the player; in other words, I wouldn’t have known that I was playing in a casino for charity vs. a casino for profit without that sign.  Located in what amounts to a strip mall, BBCC took rake the same way I’ve seen most do it, 10% up to $5 – no flop, no drop.  It offered $0.50 / hour in comps.   Waitress service was terrific.  Seats were fairly basic, as was the table itself, featuring no automatic shufflers (all decks were hand shuffled).  Dealers were competent.  They open at 12pm, close at 1am.  In fact, if I had to nitpick one thing, it would be that buy-ins and rebuys were by runner only; one cannot rebuy at the table.  Although the runners are efficient, I can imagine this could be a problem when the poker room is busy (5 tables were running during the night I was visiting).
As is typical of “new-ish” poker rooms introduced to an area, play was atrocious.  Obviously given limited data (I played one session for ~4 hours), I saw obvious bluffs, poor to terrible pre-flop hand selection and otherwise idiotic play.  For example, I saw a guy call a 3bet of $35 that he opened for $6, with $60 behind holding 23cc.  Obviously, he flopped a flush vs. pocket Queens without the Qc, so he’s a poker genius, but LOL.  This same guy would double through with KJ vs. AK AIPF against the same player later on in the night, and pay me off with a small pocket pair vs. my KK AIPF on the immediate following hand, so nice score for me.
Overall, I had a good night with one or two hands that were “questionable,” which I’ll share below:
  • First hand, I hold 35cc in the CO against a $6 raise by the aforementioned feature player from above.  There winds up being 8 of us in the hand; I opt to call with my speculative hand rather than giving any thought to 3bet / squeezing, given that the fish is clearly calling a 3bet with a wide range, which will cause the trickle-down effect of one caller joining multiple other callers.  Granted, I do have position, but I don’t want to inflate the pot without a purpose, and 5 high is not likely to showdown as the winner.  Anyway, we see a flop of Q J 3, two spades.  I check my pair of 3’s and the BTN bets $10 (into a ~$50 pot!).  I call, as does the original raiser.

    Turn is a 5 and I turn two pair.  The original raiser again checks, and I decide to take control of the hand, leading for $40, as I’m 99% sure I’m ahead at this point and want value.  I’m not afraid of the original raiser; I’m not sure what he’s doing or why he’s still in the hand, but I’m happy he’s still with me.  The BTN immediately folds and the original raiser again calls.  I have plans to check through any river that isn’t a 3 or 5, but I still can’t put original raiser on a hand.  I feel as though if he had a hand, he’d have bet the flop given so many players involved in the hand.  Looking at the hand from his position, I wouldn’t want my opponents seeing a turn / river for free, because if I have a hand I want to get value along the way.  I would be cbetting the flop, and continuing the turn, unlike him, who is check / calling and playing passively.

    That notwithstanding, we see a river of a Queen, leading the final board to read Q J 3 5 Q, rainbow.  He instantly leads for $75.  WTF?  Check / call, check / call, then lead with a board pairing Q?  Nuts or bluff – a polarizing bet, clearly, but it seems like such an odd spot for the nuts given the passivity.  I don’t waste much time in calling my 5’s and Queens, and he say’s “nice call” before flipping over K6o (WTF????).  I show my 5’s and the table is pretty astounded (really????  I suppose he could have been bluffing with a pocket pair, but it’s just such a weird spot to bluff there!).
  • Second hand is against a tighter player, who’s pretty passive post flop but will open PF.  At this point in the night, I’m raising a few hands in a row and look down at AJcc on the BTN.  I open to $17 after 4-5 limps, and he’s the only one who calls in early position.  Flop comes AdQd3x and he checks to me.  I lead for $27 and he check / raises me all in for $160 effective.  Thoughts on a passive post flop player who all of a sudden gets aggro after seeing me become aggro PF?

    Click to see results

    I couldn’t put him on AA, QQ, AQ or AK, as he would have raised PF without a doubt. I absolutely can put him on 33 here – that’s an easy limp / call hand from EP.  I can also put him on a ton of diamond draws. The check / raise seems so out of character for him, though. If he’s going for value, wouldn’t he either lead or c/r to $75-80 and shove the turn? Why bomb a check / raise all in? I eventually wind up calling him and he shows QTo.
Again, as I said, idiotic play…  Idiotic players…  Just weird spots for bluffs that make no sense.


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