Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Maybe There is a Pot 'O Gold At the End of the Rainbow

Work sent me off to Iowa City this week, and lo and behold, they've got a casino nearby. The Riverside Casino and Resort played host to a poker session for me later on Monday. The drive to Iowa City was slightly miserable as it was raining off and on. The casino is located about 20 miles south of Iowa City, and as I drove there later in the afternoon the rain was just finishing blowing through and the sun had come out. As I was heading south and came over the crest of the hill that was just west of the casino, I looked to my left, and you wouldn't believe it, a spectacular rainbow was just appearing. It was very bright, and I had to laugh because it appeared from my view where I was at that moment that the rainbow was coming down right in to the casino. I tried to get a pic with my cell phone camera, but it didn't seem to show up that well on the cell phone and trying to do that while driving was proving somewhat difficult. I was extremely disappointed about that; however, I did take it as a sign that maybe my "pot of gold" was waiting for me at the casino! Yee Haw!

The poker room at The Riverside has 14 tables. Of those, three were being used. They had a $3/$6 Texas Hold 'em Limit game, a $5/$5 Omaha game, and a $2/$5 No Limit Texas Hold 'em game going. I got my name on the list for the $2/$5 No Limit game and decided to spend my time waiting by playing craps. The buy-in range for the No-Limit game was $100-$500, so I plopped down $200 at craps in the hopes of making a quick score so I could buy in for the max at the Hold 'em game. My luck at the dice was my typical luck at craps, though, and when I got called for poker, I had to pull another $100 out just so that I'd have $265 to sit down with at the poker game.

As I sat down the first hand being played out had a board of 9-8-7 for a flop, and two players were getting some large bets in to the pot. The turn brought a 7, and when the river put out a 6 both players got their stacks in the middle....One player had 7-8 for a full house, 7s full of 8s, and the other player had 9-9 for a higher full house, 9s full of 7s....Yikes!!! I was watching the player who won the hand while he raked in his chips, and I noticed that he had about $2000 sitting in front of him. There were a couple of other players that were above $800, but this guy had a huge stack, and for the next hour I watched him hit just about everybody with it. He was getting cards though, and what made it worse was that some of the medium stacks at the table were getting hands that you just couldn't get away from. The owner of the big stack was named Archie, and man, Archie was killin' us. He made a set of 9s when someone else had AK and hit the Ace on the flop. He flopped a straight when someone else flopped a set. He turned the nut flush after another player flopped middle set. It was unreal. Lucky for me, Archie was three seats to my right, so I had position on him.

The guy on Archie's right couldn't catch a break. He hit a set of Jacks just to watch someone make a flush, then had two consecutive overpairs cracked by underpairs. I felt a little bad for him, especially since it wasn't me doing the crackin'!!

My big hand of the evening came after I was up a little bit. The table was generally loose, so I just decided to play my normal tight game. In this hand I thought that I was playing it brilliantly, then during the hand I was cursing myself for my idiotic play. It was one of those hands. The hand began by the player on my right opening the pot with a bet of $15. He was in early position and the bet seemed small since most opening bets were in the $25-$35 range, and when I looked at his stack I noticed that he had about $70 left after his raise. I looked down and found myself holding pocket Aces. I breifly thought about it, grabbed some chips that I knew would be a raise, and sent them in to the pot for a near-min-raise to $30. I did this by design. I had surmised that the short stack was going to put his stack in the middle. I also guessed that I would possibly get one of the middle or late players to maybe call the $30, then when it got back to the short stack he would shove for his $70, and then I could re-shove with a big bet, trapping the middle and/or late players calls (if they indeed called). Well, one player in mid-position called, and Archie, who was in the small blind, also called. Unfortunately, the player on my right didn't shove...he just called!! Personally, I thought this was a mistake on his part as he now had $30 of his $85 in the pot preflop. Nonetheless, I was now cursing, since instead of playing Aces heads up in decent pot, I was now playing Aces in a 4-way pot with the biggest stack at the table.

The flop was: 9-7-2 - rainbow. I was about as happy as I could be with that flop. Archie checked, and then the short stack shoved for his stack...ugh...do that before the flop. I thought about reraising, but if I do that and either player remaining comes over the top, do I just reshove and hope that they have the overpair that's under me? Or am I up against that dreaded set that I could easily see anyone playing the way the hand went so far....Hmmmm....what to do....Well, I decided to just call. I didn't think either player would call unless they had something, and guess what, they both called! Now, I was cursing myself. The turn was a King. Archie checked. I now was running out of chips to put in the pot, and I decided to just shove here. I was insta-called by the guy behind me, and Archie was thinking about it...for a l-o-n-g time. He eventually folded, and the short stack showed 8-8 for an underpair, and the insta-call was from someone who hit with his Ace-King. That meant the whole pot was getting shipped my way. It was a nice result, but I felt that I got lucky there. Granted, the pot ended up being much larger than what I was originally planning, but playing Aces against three other players is just asking to get yourself stacked off, especially when I had the opportunity to isolate. I was still a little miffed that the short stack didn't reshove, since that was part of my plan, but I guess I forgot to tell him that part.

I did have one other hand where I got sort of lucky when, after an hour of nothing but folding and having multiple players point it out, I decided to raise to $35 preflop with 7s-6s in an effort to pick up the blinds and two limpers, then after one call from the small blind I hit middle pair on the 9-7-4 flop, turned another 7, and then filled up on the river with a 6. I was betting the whole way, and got paid off by someone who just assumed I was trying to buy the pot while holding AK or AQ. He did hit either the 9 on the flop, or had pocket Tens, but I got very lucky in that hand, and it didn't go unnoticed that I raised preflop with the 7-6, either.

It was a very good session, and I was able to walk out of the Riverside Casino with my little pot 'o gold!