Take it to the Pot Limit

Wednesday, February 4th, 2004, 3:13 pm

Played some poker last night, as is my wont. Fired up Choice Poker, where the Grublog Poker Classic will be held. A grand total of 59 players were sitting at the tables. Brought up Empire/Party, and there were 35,000.00 at play.

As Iggy would say, Empire > Choice.

I would need to play 500 raked hands at Choice to get my $100 bonus, and after about 10 minutes and the start of a blinding headache I realized that this was not going to happen. I play too much to begin with, and playing on two different sites with different color schemes and formats…it ain’t worth it. I apologize to PokerGrub, but I withdrew most of the money I deposited there. I want to keep it in my Empire account, where I know it’s safe. Not that I think Choice will go belly-up before the big event, but I think they’re gonna have a problem surviving in the competitive poker market with the product they’re offering.

Then again, they are letting us play our tournament there. So that’s a big plus in their column.

My insane winning streak has not only continued, it’s boomed. Last Friday I was playing my usual $.50-$1 game and a familiar name sat down at the table. My brother had tracked me down and joined the table, and we talked some trash and probably confused the hell out of the other players. I schooled him, of course, stripping about $15 from him before he finally caught on and learned to throw away his hand when I bet into him.

After awhile I sent him an IM (no, we weren’t colluding) and asked if he wanted to play a little no-limit. I meant play a $5 SNG, but he bugged out to look for a table and I had to finish a hand, and when he sent me a message inviting me to join his table I clicked the button and was transported, not to an SNG, but to a $25 buy-in no-limit table.

I’ve never played a no-limit ring game before, and I was more than a bit nervous. I really haven’t studied no-limit very much (better brush up before the 22nd) and I was afraid of wasting my whole stack on a bad play. I decided to use my intelligence guided by experience and play how I’ve been taught–tight and aggressive.

For a no-limit table the action was very passive. The blinds were only $.25 and $.50, so you could see some cheap flops and maybe hit something big. That’s what my brother did on one hand. You know how athletes say it’s harder on the nerves watching a game than playing in it? Well, when my brother called an all-in bet after an ace showed on the board I was chomping on my nails something fierce. At the showdown he showed two pair, aces and I think queens, and the other guy turned over A-6. Well, all right! Once again we were amongst the fishes, it seemed–and this time for far higher stakes.

My brother went on a wicked tear, at one point cracking the $100 barrier. “Do you fucking BELIEVE this?” he IM’d me. We didn’t get involved in many pots together, tho if I recall correctly he made a big bet at me when I held 2nd pair and I had to bail. He had the big stack, and I didn’t want to lose all my cash to some bully.

At one point I was down around $15, but I doubled up when I hit trips against top two pair, and ended the night about $20 in the black. I didn’t play crazy, but when I hit big hands I found that the fish kept calling, even though it cost them $10 to play instead of the buck or two you might have to pay in a low-limit game.

My brother ended up pissing away almost everything he won, thanks no doubt to the six quarts of Irish Coffee he consumed along the way. But he hit a full house late and made back almost everything he lost. When I returned to the tables the next day I decided to compromise and play at a $25 Pot-Limit table. I figured I could afford a $25 hit if I really got in a tight spot, and maybe I could continue my winning ways and increase the ‘ol bankroll.

Dear readers, the past week has been a revelation. I’ve played pot-limit every day this week and I’ve ended a winner every time. The quality of play is something along the lines of Neanderthal. Fish teem at these tables, so eager to take the bait that they practically hook, land, scale, and bread themselves. I’m still playing tight and conservative, but playing Pot-Limit means you can both shut out the chasers if you hit top pair, and you can also charge the blundering fools a huge premium to see your monsters.

A few examples. I held AQ, raised the betting to a buck, and had 4 callers. The flop came Q-10-2, with the 10 and deuce clubs. Now, I hate flush draws. You probably hate flush draws to, having lost to them dozens of times. I was sure I had the best hand at the moment. The betting was checked around to me, and I bet the pot, about $5. I wanted to end things right then and there, and, failing that, I wanted those with middle pair or 2 clubs or an ace in their hands to pay thru the nose for the next card. They all folded, and I made a $5 profit. Better to win a small pot than lose a big won, yes?

Then again, it’s best to win a big pot. I’ve won five or six pots of over $50 since I started playing PL. One or two were nervy little exercises where I held an overpair or a medium flush, but most were hands were I either held the nut flush or a big full house. And got massively paid off. I had a guy put $30 in a pot with me where I held the nut flush and he had a pair of aces and a 10 kicker. That’s it. I had a straight and had 2 callers, each for about $25. I figured we’d be splitting the pot in some way, but no–one had top two pair (hitting the 2nd pair on the river after I’d made my straight), and the other guy had nothing. NOTHING. He tried to bluff us out.

Only once have I lost the whole $25 I bought in with, and that was last night. I had pocket aces, made trips on the flop, but got beat by AK suited when he made his flush on the river. I bought back in, and ended up making back the $25 I lost plus an extra $15.

I’d love to hear if anyone else has been playing PL or NL ring games and what advice or warnings they might have. Because this past week I’ve about doubled my bankroll, and I haven’t been playing like a cowboy. I’m still playing tight, tho I take a few more fliers with suited connectors and near-connectors, because that fifty cent bet can turn into twenty-five bucks with a huge flop.

I’m careful to check out the table before I join, looking for the loose-passive folks I prey upon. See those cheap flops and then strike. I’m surprised at how timid some of the tables have been, at times I’ve gobbled up pots at will, bossing folks around with pot-matching bets. The one night, I think it was Monday, I stole two tiny pots in quick succession, only about $2 in each. Then I held KK and made trips on the flop. The betting was checked around to me, and rather than check I made a tiny $.50 bet, as though I was trying to make a pathetic steal attempt. Everyone called. A rag on the turn, and again I made a small bet, a buck this time. This time I was re-raised for the whole pot, one other guy called, and I crushed them by re-raising the pot. One fold, one call. At the end of the day I turned over my cowboy trio and he mucked whatever crap he had.

This sort of game seems to favor tight, aggressive play more than limit poker does. If anyone else has played at these tables I’d like to hear about it, because it almost seems too good to be true. I’d also like to know what y’all think about ratholing. A couple of times I’ve been up quite a bit and had about $75 at the table, and having that much potentially at risk if I get caught against a big stack holding quads or something is no fun. I know at casinos that players who take money off the table are considered a life form several levels below pond scum, but I’ve been doing just that. If I have more money in my stack than I feel comfortable losing, I walk away. I try not to come back to the same table, since I think that’s really bush, but while I’ve survived a $25 hit, dropping eighty on a horrid beat would test my coping skills to the limit.

Speaking of limits, I’ve reached the point where my weight is as high as I can possibly accept and call myself “not a whale”. So I think I’m going to start a fad that will soon sweep the nation–Aerobipoker! I’m gonna ride my exercise bike before I’m allowed to play, and even while I’m playing. Why lie there like a bump on a log waiting for that huge hand when I can be pedaling away and shedding globs of gooey fat. Need to get trim with spring on the horizon. Plus these shooting chest pains are getting so old.

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