Friday, March 28, 2008

Canterbury Tales

I was on the road again for work, and this time I was working in Minneapolis. Usually I fly there, but we had two workshops going on so I drove with another of my colleagues up to Minneapolis. After the 5-hour drive, setting up the facility, and then checking in at the hotel, I was debating whether or not to head over to the Canterbury Card Club. I was pretty tired, but I decided to go, figuring that the adrenaline from playing cards would take over and I’d be more alert and focused.

I’ve played at the Canterbury Card Club before, and you might recall from one of those prior trips to this poker room that the room is entirely Limit poker, with games starting at $2/$4 Limit (blinds are $1 and $2), going on up to a $30/$60 Limit (blinds are $15 and $30). I chose to sit down at the $4/$8 Limit game, hoping that it would be a tighter game than the $2/$4 and $3/$6 games that they offer.

One of the things you need to know about the Canterbury Card Club is that it might just be the loosest poker room on the face of the planet. Every game plays like it’s a penny poker game. I usually prefer a loose game, as that tends to play in to my style, which most of you know is a tight, aggressive, style of play. Playing that tight at Canterbury will get you crushed, since it is too easy to spot that style of play amongst all the loose players. If you wait for a big hand, the players will either crush you for a large pot by cracking it, or you’ll only win a small pot. The large pots that you will win by waiting for a big starting hand are too few and far between unless the deck is really running well for you that day.

All that being said, I rather enjoy playing at the Canterbury Card Club. It allows me to play a style of play that I usually don’t get the opportunity to play because of its lack of profitability, and that style is a loose style, with a mix of aggressiveness and passiveness, depending on the many, many variables that can factor in to any given poker hand. You might be surprised to hear me say that since many of you have seen me play and know that I play tight, but being able to play loose once in a while allows me to try different things and do crazy stuff that I try and curtail myself from doing when I normally play poker.

The players there will call you before the flop with almost any two cards. Once the flop is out you’ll get called or raised by anything from big drawing hands to hands with the slimmest of chances. I observed people calling with second pair and weak kickers, third pairs, underpairs to the board, flush draws, open ended straight draws, gutshot straight draws, two non-coordinated cards with the board, and even a six-high on a three-paint-card board (that person caught running sixes to beat a flopped two pair). You need to accept that you will get sucked out on by “unusual” play. If you let that put you on tilt, you will lose your stack.

I sat down at the table with a buy-in of $200, and within 40 minutes I found myself counting my last 3 stacks of $1 chips. A stack typically contains 20 chips, so I was down around $140. I couldn’t believe the number of times people were winning hands by calling with draws, and then at the river an Ace-high or King-high hand won. There was one player in particular that I noticed leading out even if he had just an open draw, flush draw, or any pair with the board (second and third pairs, too), and I benefited from observing that in a hand that started my comeback. I was dealt Ks-7s and decided to see a flop (that alone should tell you how loose I was playing!). The flop came 9-7-3 with three suits, and when the player led out I made a decision that I was getting to the river because he could have been betting with an inferior hand. I ended up catching running spades, giving me a spade flush, and he managed to catch his straight at the river, so the pot that I collected was rather nice when we got three bets in each at the river.

That gave me some chips to play with again, and I started making some hands. One time in a limped pot I flopped a boat when my K3 in the BB had a KK3 flop. There were three players in that hand, and it did get to the river and showdown. Sometimes it isn’t hard to win when the deck hits you like that.

There was one special hand that I wanted to go in to detail about. It wasn’t a large pot, it wasn’t brilliant play, it was just luck, but it was fun…

I found myself ahead by the time we got to this point of the session, and considering the drive that day and the sitting in that chair I decided to find a massage therapist and get a massage while playing when I was dealt:


I decided to see the flop, and there’s nothing unusual about seeing a flop with suited connectors. Of the nine players at the table, a “mere” seven of us saw the flop.

The flop was: Ah-Qc-3h

One player bet, another called, I called with my baby flush draw and gutshot straight draw, two others folded, the player in the cutoff seat (one off of the button) raised, the button folded, and the rest of us already in the pot called. With all those players in I was hoping for a two, since I figured that a heart would give me a losing flush unless it was the right heart.

The magical turn card was: 2h

That, friends, was the right heart. It gave me the straight flush and secured the pot for me. Now it was my job to get as much as possible out of the other opponents. The players in early position checked, the flop raiser bet, one other player called, and I called.

The river was one of the worst possible cards I could have seen: 7h

It wasn’t bad because it hurt my hand (which was impossible to be beaten once the 2h hit the board), but because by being the fourth heart on the board (Ah 3h 2h 7h), it would be very easy for anyone to have a flush, and unless someone had the King of hearts (Kh) it would be unlikely that I would get paid a lot. Due to my early position in the hand I had to lead out and bet because I couldn’t risk the players behind me checking the hand to a showdown, but the flop raiser called me, and he confirmed what I believed when the fourth heart hit the board on the river. He had the Qh-6h and had made his flush at the turn, so if the river heart hadn’t hit we would have gotten a couple more bets in each at the river.

In addition to winning the pot, when you get a straight flush at the Canterbury Card Club and it goes to a showdown you win a baseball cap. Eventually I cashed out being $59 ahead (including the massage), so I think I did pretty well for my 4 hours of play. I know it’s not all that exciting, but straight flushes are a rarity, and it was fun getting the hand and the hat!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Some Poker While At the State Bowling Tournament

Every year right around mid March my bowling team goes to bowl in the State Bowling tournament. They rotate the location of the tournament through different cities, and this year the State Bowling Tournament was in the Fox Valley area. One bowling alley was in Appleton, and the other was in Neenah. Since Appleton is only about 30 minutes from Green Bay a couple of my teammates and I thought it would be a good idea to stay at the Oneida casino and hotel in Green Bay.

I had no problem with this since I knew I would get the opportunity to play poker in the poker room there. The weekend had a theme going for me…win at poker, lose at at poker, lose at craps…win at poker, lose at blackjack…win at poker, bowl horrible. I think you get the idea. All in all I finished about $200 up including the cost of the room, meals, and side pots at bowling. Sounds good, right? The only problem was that I had won $700 in my first poker session and $500 in my second poker session. That tells you what kind of weekend I was having with everything else.

I did have an entertaining poker session in my second session, and I wanted to share some of that with you. The session began with me taking a beat when I pushed with a flush draw, hit it, but my opponent had a set that turned in to a full house. Then, after rebuying, I got my chips in with Jacks on a 7-high board against someone with AK. The river brought a King, and now I was rebuying again. Sometimes it just doesn’t come easy. I spent the next three hours getting myself to within a hundred dollars of even, and I caught a rush of cards. It started innocently enough, with me getting AA, reraising someone’s raise, and taking down a pot. On the following hand I was dealt AK, raised, and took down a small pot again when all the limpers folded. I was dealt TT on the next hand, reraised another player, got called, and took down the pot with a bet on the flop. So now I thought I should play the rush. I was dealt 7s-4s and called when there was a raise and a caller in front of me. The flop was: 5s-6s-Th. This gave me an open-ended straight draw, a flush draw, and a straight flush draw. This is a huge flop for me. It was checked to me so I led out and bet. The player behind me raised, and I moved all in. They folded saying they had T-7, so they had top pair, weak kicker. My hand was a favorite, and I raked a nice pot. I still hadn’t shown down a hand, so I knew that my table image had to appear as though I was just shoving chips like a maniac. Well, on the very next hand, I got KK. I raised preflop to $35 and got a caller. It happened to be the same player from when I had TT, and I was getting the feeling that he (and the rest of the table) was getting sick of me pushing them around with my chips. The flop was: J-8-4 (two hearts). I bet, this guy raised, and I called. I happened to have the Kh. The turn was the Ah. Now, if a player is drawing to a flush, a lot of times they are drawing with the Ah, so I didn’t think they had a flush. That made me think that betting was still correct, so I did. My opponent slowed down and just called. The river was another heart giving me the nuts. I bet again, and my opponent gave me a disgusting look. You could tell that he was thinking I was pushing again. He asked me “I suppose you made your flush this time?” as he called my bet. Normally, I would have just told him yes and showed him the cards, but I was trying to put the table on tilt, so I responded “Duhh!!” and flamboyantly turned my cards over. I won the pot, and more importantly, I got every player at the table thinking one thing…get this guy!! Now, I’m sort of used to that from one of the poker leagues I play in, so I adjusted my play.

Over the next two hours, I played five hands. All five times they were premium hands and on four of those five my hand held up. I think I garnered more action than I normally would get because of my actions earlier. As I stated earlier in this post I finished this session up about $500, which was really good considering the way it started.

I just wish I could say my bowling that weekend was good. I shot absolutely awful, with only one game out of nine being above my average. I guess there’s always next year. The State tournament is in Green Bay next year, so I think I’ll get another shot at the tables at Oneida then!