July 17, 2010

Hit By a Horseshoe

This week, I traveled back to Nebraska for my grandmother's funeral (she was 94 and had her full mental wits about her until the pain meds took over the last week or two, so it was about as good a way for someone to go as is possible).  On the way back to Iowa, I stopped in at the Horseshoe casino in Council Bluffs (just across the border from Omaha, for those deficient in Midwestern geography).  As I've discussed previously, this is the nicest room in the state, but it has some quirky rules that are unique in the state.  On a Friday morning, there was a full 2/5 NLHE game with a list, three 1/3 NLHE games, and a 3/6 LHE game.  I got into one of the 1/3 NL games, as my time was short and I didn't want to wait for the 2/5 NL game.  Perhaps I should've waited.

I started off fairly well, building my $200 buy-in (max. for the game) into a $450 stack, mostly by snapping KK with set of Queens, and picking off three pretty obvious bluffs.  The game was playing pretty tight, so a lot of small pot stealing was going on while the nits waited for big hands.  However, the table was friendly and joking around a lot, so it was that rarest of events—an enjoyable nit-fest.  Eventually, a couple of us got the table loosened up to the point that $15 was routinely called in 3-5 spots, making the inevitable flop steal even more lucrative.  Just another service provided by your friendly crAAKKer.

Poker players like to talk about "variance"; let's just say that my table was approaching Infinite Improbability levels of variance.  In the few hours I played, I saw Yaks flop top set against Kings (with all the money getting in on the flop), only for running Kings to hit, with a quads bonus to boot.  On at least four occasions, a turn or river "joker" hit, giving one player a flush and another player a full house.  Flopped straights and flushes were so common, it became a running joke about who flopped the nuts.  There were two flopped set over set situations, several flopped flush over flush hands, as well as three monochrome boards for split pots.  On my first two straddles (to $10), the table uber-nit picks up pocket Yaks, and each time runs them right into pocket Kings, losing both hands, his stack, his rebuy, and likely his mind.  Pure insanity.

Have you ever heard of getting hit by the deck?   The exact opposite happened to me—let's call it getting hit by a horseshoe.  My profit disappeared when twice in three hands (my BB and button), I play A5s, flop dos pairs, and find I am drawing thin versus a set of 3s and flopped top two (AJ).  Rebuy!  A couple of orbits later, I had built up my stack to just over $300, when I straddle and raise with AhJh, after there were seven (!) limpers.  Suddenly there is a raise, an all-in, and I can see the initial raiser looking to call/push.  I reluctantly fold, only to find out the two players are holding ... AA and JJ!  Sometimes, I play so good.  As I pat myself on the back for a good fold, the flop comes out all hearts.  Sometimes, I play so bad.

Soon, though, another horseshoe clangs into my skull when I play 8c6c from the BB, making the 6th caller of the $15 preflop raise.  The flop comes out QcJc9c.  Donkey Kong!!  Knowing there will be a bet, I check, and sure enough, there is a bet and a call to me.  I push for ~$175, and suddenly there is a push behind me, the flop bettor pushes, and the flop caller thinks, then calls!!  Holy action, Batman!  I figure I have to be dead, or near dead to the Tc, but am pleased to see:  Jd9d, QhQd, and AcKs.  I am less pleased to see the river, a non-ten club.  Running it on Cardplayer.com, I was 19% preflop, 51% on the flop, 68% on the turn, and 0% on the river.  Perhaps I should make a multicolor graph or something ...

Anyway, I still had an hour to play, so I rebought.  I stole a couple of pots, and had nearly $280 when the other horseshoe dropped.  There were five players in for $15 when I find Ts9s in the cutoff.  I call, and we see a flop of QcJc8s.  Yahtzee!  Original raiser c-bets for $40, gets raised to $100 total, I push, and the raiser snap-calls.  He proudly rolls over AQo (with no club), which makes me a slight favorite.  Running Aces make me a slight underdog.  Standard.  The table murmurs with disbelief and condolences, but in keeping with my new mantra, I laugh and simply say, "Good hand.  Time to hit the road.  Good luck everyone." 

I'll definitely be back to the Horseshoe for more fishing.  But next time, the poker gods owe me some seriously positive variance.  To be blunt, Set owes me a bunch of sets.

Set—Egyptian god of darkness, storms, and chaos.
A powerful member of the poker god pantheon.

(Image from here).


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. @ Richard: I'm honored that the legendary Richard F'ing Brody would stop by my li'l ol' blog! I'll keep your first (now deleted) comment secret, as you don't need boats for baccarat.


    @ Memphis MOJO: Oh, hi there. Did you happen to notice RFB stopped by? :-p

  3. "I play A5s, flop dos pairs, and find I am drawing thin versus a set of 3s and flopped top two (AJ)."

    Just a little confused...if you flopped two pair, as did the AJ guy, then the flop must have been A-J-5. So where did the guy with set of 3's come from? Lucky turn? Did you and the AJ villain slow-play the flop?

  4. @ Edward: Sorry, my writing was ambiguous.

    "My profit disappeared when twice in three hands (my BB and button), I play A5s, flop dos pairs, and find I am drawing thin versus a set of 3s and flopped top two (AJ)."

    This happened in two separate hands. In the BB, I flopped A-5-3 versus 33, and then two hands later, I was OTB and flopped A-J-5 versus AJ. Hope that helped clear it up!


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