August 19, 2010

The 'Shoe Is Too Tight

"Tight.  Too ... tight."

—Ironman Bonnie, intoxicated and trapped in the Venetian's expertly made bed during IMOP-III

I had a court hearing in Council Bluffs on Monday, so on the way home I made a quick pit stop at the Horseshoe for a session of $1/$3 NLHE.  The 'Shoe was in full preparation mode for the upcoming WSOP Circuit Event, set to kick off today in its newly revamped format, with lower buy-in main events, regional championships, and a WSOP bracelet freeroll tournament.  Our table was the first to get to use the official WSOP dealer buttons, which were the old plain white dealer buttons with Miller Lite decals pasted on both sides.  Classy.

Although I only played for about four hours, the session was quite remarkable because of the tightness of play.  Four or five players might limp in or call a raise to $6-$8 (in a $1/$3 game, mind you), but preflop raises over $10 rarely got callers, and usually only one caller.  Limping with AK, KK, QQ, JJ was endemic to the point of being standard.  Postflop was even worse.  Top pair was a check-calling hand, overpairs would bet 1/4 pot at most, and big hands (e.g., two pair, sets, flushes) would massively overbet the flop.  This game made the proverbial "rock garden" look like a Euro-maniac spewfest.  Frankly, it would have been less of a miracle for an actual granite boulder to ship some chips into a big pot than some of these rocks.

"Oh that's right, Private Pyle, don't make any f--king effort to get to the top of the f--king obstacle.  If God would have wanted you up there he would have miracled your ass up there by now, wouldn't he?"

—Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (R. Lee Ermey) in "Full Metal Jacket"

In case you think I'm exaggerating, let me give you some examples:
  • I raise to $10 with TT in the big blind.  Two callers.  Flop is T-T-2 with two clubs.  Yahtzee!  I bet $15, my standard c-bet.  Two snap-folds.
  • I limp with 55, as do four others.  Flops is 9-9-5.  Yahtzee!  It checks around.  Turn is an Ace.  Someone bets $5, folds to me, I raise to $15, folds around.
  • I limp with 97 on the button.  Flop is 6-9-T.  Checks around.  Turn is another 9, putting a flush draw on board.  Yahtzee.  Checks to me, I bet $10, get one caller.  River is a 7, no flush possible.  Yahtzee?  Checks to me, I bet $15, get flat called by ... J8 sooted, who never bet or raised with the OESD and backdoor flush draw, and check-called with the nut straight on the river.
  • I flopped sets of 3s and 6s, no action when the flop checks through, and folds around when I bet the turn with big cards on board.
  • I play J3s for a raise on the button, get two callers.  Flop is J-5-3.  Checks to me, I bet $10, get one caller.  Turn is another 3.  Altogether now, "Yahtzee!"  Check-check.  River is a Ten.  Checks to me, I bet $20, he thinks and folds ... KJ!
  • I play 76s, flop is Q-5-8 for the OESD.  Flop is a 1/4 pot bet, I call.  Turn is an Ace.  Check-check.  River is a 4.  Yacht Zee.  He checks, I bet around 1/2 pot, he thinks forever before finally calling with ... AQ.
  • I play QcTc in the BB for a limp.  Flop is Qd-Td-8c.  Checks through.  Turn is Ts.  Yaht-frickin'-zee.  I bet $5, get two callers.  River is the 7d.  I bet 1/2 pot, one snap-fold, the other guy thinks, then folds 9d8d!
Maybe I'm incredibly easy to read at the table.  Maybe the cards were marked.  Maybe I was playing with a bunch of almond brokers* in town for the nut peddling convention.  Maybe I was playing at a table of guys whose poker minds have been permanently destroyed by a series of online bad beats.  All I know is that, despite all the big hands, I made a whopping $52 profit from poker.

Now, I did lose two decent-sized pots when I flopped altos dos pairs against the bajo set, and a couple of hands later flopped bajos dos pairs against the alto set.  But they were both fairly short-stacked, so my big losses were under $250 total.  On the other hand, I won a couple of decent pots when crAAKKing aces (details at 11:00, or in a future post).  In fairness, then, I probably made about $250 from all my big hands, probably a sixth of what I would normally expect to make when running that hot. 

I did also get a high hand jackpot for my quad tens.  The HHJs at the 'Shoe are progressive by rank, and can only be hit once per day.  Also, the straight flushes are separated by suit as well as rank, so the jackpot drop gets pretty chopped up, and the HHJs grow slowly.  Typically, quads pay $20-$40 when hit.  But, I was lucky that Tens were on top of the list, and I hit it about a half hour after the HHJs were bumped up from the previous day's jackpot drop, paying me $164 (net $150 after dealer tip).  So, I still finished the session with a nice profit, but I feel like I squandered a great SVB streak.

Table 8 at the Horseshoe.

(Image from here).

* Originally wrote this as "almond salesmen", but realized that the term is sexist.  So, the officially recognized term going forward will be "almond brokers".  At crAAKKer, we take our political correctness as seriously as our starting hand selection.


  1. Maybe I was playing with a bunch of almond salesmen in town for the nut peddling convention.


  2. I sincerely hope the games loosen up considerably with the influx of busted tourney players when I'm there next week. Also, I hope you didn't steal all my #rungood

  3. I'll trade you. I was at a table yesterday that was looser than a 90 year old after eating a box of prunes. Twice I had 15 called by A-rag who flopped bottom pair and called 2/3 to 3/4 pot sized bets, $50 to $60 with bottom pair only to river their ace. Then there was the guy who called $150 on the turn with a 10 hi flush draw. I'll take the $52 profit anyday.

  4. @ Memphis MOJO: Regrettably, I have had to edit that quote to avoid any sexist connotations. See the corrected quote above.

    @ Andy: Before this session, my opinion of the 'Shoe is that it consistently had the juiciest action with greatest % of poor players in the state. Now, this session was late afternoon / early evening on a Monday, so the late week / weekend drunk crowd wasn't playing. But, I've played many such midweek sessions previously without this degree of rockishness.

    Good luck in the tourneys!

    @Wolfshead: Wait 'til you read about my session last night at the Meadows ATM with Ironman Santa Claus. Your game will seem nitty in comparison.

  5. ..."whose poker minds have been permanently destroyed by a series of online bad beats."

    Let me tell you, I can identify with this feeling. I often find myself playing big or semi-big hands wrong by overbetting to protect and hopefully just take down a smallish pot to avoid an online-style suckout. FullTilt and PokerStars have definitely messed with my psyche!



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