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Casino Report

Last Friday evening, a friend and I visited our local casino to play some hold'em. Although I enjoyed giving live poker a shot, it's definitely not something that I'd do regularly. The games were definitely much weaker than what I've grown accustomed to online.  But I was surprised by the broad range of skill on display by my opponents.

At my table alone, I was up against four rocks (all seniors), three Internet wannabe-pros (early/mid twenties), two donkeys (early thirties), and a regular loose cannon (middle-aged French guy who knew everyone working the poker room). Having never played real live poker before, I took my seat (between the two Internet "pros"...yuck) without saying a word, bought into the game, and focused on just watching my opponents and not getting stacked.

Over the next three hours, I remember eight of the hands that I played.  I was surprised by the number of pots that got raised pre-flop. I'd estimate that 70% of pots were raised to roughly 5-10 BB pre-flop. The game just wasn't as passive pre-flop as I'd hoped. Post-flop,  the game was still played somewhat aggressively despite the fact that many of the players would call down with any pair, any draw. I even saw a few sick river cards that put some of my opponents on uber life-tilt. One guy looked like he was going to cry after getting rivered in a $200 pot. WTF?! If you can't stand to lose $100, why are you playing $1/$2 NLHE?

Here's a list of all hands that I remember playing on Friday:

  1. I limp in MP with 86s. Four of us see a flop of Q 5 4 (rainbow) and the flop is checked around. Turn is 9♣, giving me a flush draw to go with my gutshot straight draw. When the action checks to me, I decide to bet $5 into the $8 pot; only the rock sitting two spots to my right calls. The river pairs the 5 on the board and the action is on the rock. I'm a little upset at this point because I'm not very keen on showing down my semi-bluff since this could kill my squeaky-tight table image. I wasn't even sure if a bet on the river would scare off the rock since he called my turn bet and I couldn't see him doing so without at least a pair.

    Before I could do anything, the rock suddenly folded his hand instead of checking. Then he looked over at me and said, "No point in me checking since I know you were going to bet anyway.". Unbelievable...
  2. I picked up AA UTG and made it $8 to go. A Montreal Canadiens fan (donkey) called as did the rock (from hand 1 above) in the SB. Flop came down a fairly ugly 8d 7h 6c. This type of flop is likely to hit my opponents' calling ranges in this spot. I check and donkey bets $15 into the $25 pot. SB folds. I give the Habs fan a look and he's just staring at me. After thinking for a minute, I decide to test the donkey's resolve by check-raising to $50. The SPR for the hand was about 7: not the greatest for stacking off with AA but not too bad. My c/r left me with enough chips to safely fold should the donkey decide to shove over the top of me (not that I was sure whether or not I'd fold to a shove at this point).

    Donkey tanks for a few minutes and finally calls. I put him on a draw (99,55, 98, 65) and decide to shove a safe turn card. I'd seen the donkey make some very questionable turn calls with only draws. Turn is Q♥ and shove for my last $120 into the $125 pot. Now the donkey really tanks and asks me if he should call. I say nothing and wait. I would have been happy with a call or fold. After three minutes, donkey mucks his hand; he tells everyone that he had the 98.
  3. I've got K♣Q♣ on the button. Three limpers to me and I make a small pot-sweetener to $5. Six of us see the flop ($30). Flop comes down A♣ Q♠ 8♣. Everyone checks to me on the button and I bet $25. The regular loose cannon (in BB) decides to c/r my bet to $55 and shoots me a little smirk; all fold to me. After having watched the loose cannon play for a couple hours, I'd noticed that he never, ever bet his strong hands on the flop or turn. He did like to bet his draws and top-pair hands though. After thinking things through, I decided to simply shove, making it $225 total. Everyone at the table sits up and starts buzzing (I was the only player that night to shove prior to seeing all five community cards) and the loose cannon sits back and starts looking me over. He finally decides to let his hand go, claiming that he had paired the Queen.
  4. I also set-mined with 22, 44, and TT, missing the flop with all of these hands.
  5. I played JJ in position against a donkey who came to sit to my right. I took down the $23 pot on an A-high flop with a simple c-bet.
  6. I took down two pots pre-flop by raising the limpers with my AJs and AQs in the BB ($10 and $12 pots, respectively).
Unlike my friend's table, my table was pretty aggressive and somewhat tight due to 50% of the table being rocks (myself included). Over the course of the evening, I didn't show down a single hand. I maintained my stack by taking down a few pots here and there by throwing out some standard bluffs. I also got three-bet a couple times by the French loose-cannon, forcing me to fold my speculative hands that I'd raised from early position out of boredom.

After roughly 75 hands played, I found myself up $100. Not too bad for my first live casino experience. I re-deposited the money back into my bank account, keeping $30 to buy dinner for my family the following evening.

As I said earlier, I found the casino to be somewhat interesting. But I prefer playing online. The games are much tougher online but there's quite a bit to be said about playing from the comfort of your own home. Multi-tabling is also preferable to sitting quietly in one spot and waiting 2-3 minutes for the next hand to be dealt. I also found the experience to be rather lonely as well since I don't speak to strangers and have no desire to make friends with the gamblers, the retirees, or the young punks making up the bulk of the casino's poker players.

I'm sure I'll visit the casino again but it may be a little while.

Have a good one!

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