So its been a while since I played much live poker, pretty much since the summer when I played some WSOP donkaments. Mostly an issue of having the vast majority of my money online, of course, and seeing as how I was building up a pretty nice roll I was content to keep growing it and playing bigger games. Well, after a few months of very successful play, i've now got more than I need online, and was able to make some good-sized cashouts to my bank account to start building up a live roll. The purpose of said live roll, of course, was to pwn fish at Lucky Chances in the 10-10-20 NL game there, the largest game in the Bay Area (by a pretty sizeable margin, actually). If you havent read previous reports I've written of the game there, theres a few key things worth noting:
1) Minimum buyin is $2000, there is no maximum. This means that there are no shortstacks (thank god) and that the game can get pretty big pretty quickly. Most of the time, people who buy in for just $2000 are taking a shot and thus pretty bad or at least scared money, and its easy enough to figure out which is which.
2) The blinds: 10 in the small blind, 20 in the big blind, and 10 on the button. Also, the "bring-in" is 40, which means if you want to limp it costs you 40 to do it. These things of course mean that there is no chopping the blinds and they generally stimulate more action and make the game play bigger than it sounds.
3) the kill: similar to a straddle but unique as best I can tell to northern california games, the kill is played before cards are dealt and is a blind $40. Anybody but the blinds/button can do it, and it doubles the bringin to $80. Additionally, the action skips over you the first time around, so you act after everybody else including the blinds. Hence, the most effective position to use the kill is the cutoff, and the best reason to do it is to artificially increase the relative stakes, especially when you're playing deep stacked with the players in the blinds.
4) the lineup: most of the regulars are pretty competent, albeit not too challenging to play against. There are of course a number of regular fish, and then a steady stream of new players who tend to sit, lose, and leave, perhaps rebuying a time or two. There are also a few players who are quite good and generally play very deep stacked, but they are the exception rather than the rule, and if anything lead to much more interesting hands because we all realize that we're on a higher level than the others.
So in any case, as is usually the case when I take a trip to Lucky Chances, I saddled up on my bike and rode to the BART station. Conveniently theres a branch of my bank right across the street, so I went and picked up a quick $5000 in big-head benjamins. Its the maximum they'll let you take in cash, at least without advance notice. I had about $6300 already in my deposit box at the casino, and more in the bank if needed, but its always nicer to build up the bankroll with winnings rather than deposits. I rode the BART down to Colma, a town which has nothing in it except cemeteries and related businesses like florists, car dealerships, and the Lucky Chances casino. Once in Colma, its a modest bike ride to the casino (the final hill is a little bit longer and steeper than I'd like, but what can you do).
Once inside, the first thing to do is of course put my name on the list for the 10-10-20 game as well as the 2/3/5 spread limit game, which plays something like 2/5 NL but not exactly. Its better than not playing though, and the seats generally open up quicker than the ones in the big game. In this case it didn't take too long to get a seat at a new 2/3/5 table, where I sat with the full $11,300 because, well, [censored] it. Not too much of note happened there, of course, because its a pretty measly game in comparison to the big game, but theres always some funny people around. In this case, the other end of the table was occupied by a pudgy fellow typical of the kind you'd find playing cards in an American casino and an average-sized but equally mediocre fellow wearing a hat that said "dad #1". Now I overheard these gentlemen discussing the absolute poker scandal, and of course they had the typically negative live-poker player's outlook on internet poker. They even mentioned specifically the dudes screen name (potripper) and his most egregiously obvious advantage play (calling with ten high against nine high). Well I was too far away from these guys to chime in and reassure them about the security of online poker to hopefully encourage them to deposit and play, but I couldn't help but wonder if all the talk about ten-high calldowns got to the #1 dad's head. The next notable action that he made after that conversation was when he got into a multiway raised pot, and ended up calling off the rest of his stack, about $60 into $180, with JTo on a board of A92r. Clearly, the jack high call is not a good one, as the better won the pot with a pair of aces. Thankfully for all of us, he rebought another $200. The very next hand, an early position player opened to $25, #1 dad reraised to $50, and the raiser called. On a queen high flop, the raiser led out for $200, and dad quickly pushed in the rest of his stack and turned over the monster hand A8. No pair, no draw. The better took down the pot (of course) with AQ. I think dad needs practice with these thin calls, though his parenting is apparently pretty solid based on his headwear and the fact that he was spending his friday afternoon losing money instead of, well, whatever it is that normal people do. Work, maybe? I don't know.
In any case, the only notable hand I was involved in while in that game was one where I raised preflop with KQhh and saw the flop 5 ways (this 2/3/5 game is really good if you hadn't figured it out already, though spread limit is the creation of the devil). Anyhow, the flop was A55 with 2 more hearts and I bet the maximum of $200, which was probably about the pot size. Everybody folded to the last guy on my right who hemmed and hawed before raising to $400 with only a few dollars left behind. Obviously I called and we got the rest in on the turn, which fortunately was a heart as well. His A9o failed to suck back out, and that was about all she wrote in the little game, as a new 10-10-20 table was opening up!
The new table was much shorter than expected, as for some reason many of the names on the list didn't show up. The remaining players were myself, a young guy I hadn't seen before (it became clear that he was a 2+2er when he pointed out that my stone frog card protector looked familiar from some trip reports), Keith the middle-aged asian guy who loves to gamble but is a very capable poker player and presumably plays for a living, an older gentleman who clearly was the mark of the lineup, and Marcus the young fellow who became wealthy with a startup in the tech boom and now plays a lot of cards with a very aggressive style. He and Keith are probably the two best other players in the game that i'm aware of, and both love to play deep. I don't think i've seen either with less than 12-15k in front of them in this game, which is a little strange since nobody else plays that deep and I assume they don't care to battle it out against each other (but maybe they do?). Well, the old guy complained about having to pay time as soon as a new game started, and decided that he wasn't going to play. This led the other young guy to sit out as well, because he didn't want to play shorthanded (which was clearly a euphemism for "why would I play in that lineup"). Well, this was a pickle for us, because if we didn't start the game they'd break it up and we'd have to wait forever to get into the existing ones since people don't leave that often. But at the same time, why would we want to play each other without any fish? And of course we have to figure out these problems without making it too clear to the old guy that we wanted him to play because he was, in fact, a fish. Well, we eventually all chipped in a few bucks to pay the old guy's time and get the game going, because we wanted his money. It turned out to be a pretty brilliant solution, and worked like a charm.
However, once we started playing, the old guy found some other reason not to play. I forget exactly what it was, but it led to the other 2+2er sitting out too, understandably, and left Keith, Marcus, and myself. Well clearly this wasn't a lineup that any of us were excited about, but if we stopped playing they would break the game and we'd all be stuck. Upon promises that new players would show up soon, we kept on playing 3-handed for a while (probably the most aggressive live game i've been in) and soon enough some new players came with some nice fresh chips.
The first notable hand came in a kill pot; I found kings under the gun and quickly and casually "limped in" for $80. Most of the table folded around, to my dismay, but fortunately Marcus was there to come in for a raise from the BB. Keith, who had killed it, folded, and I raised $600 more on top of his original $300. Unfortunately, he folded. Over the course of the next hour or so, I end up hitting a lot of flops well (KQ on QQ9 two-tone, 44 on T84 two-tone), but get little action. Shortly after the other 2+2er busted when his JJ lost to TT after getting it in preflop (obviously), I get moved to the second game, which appears to be a pretty nice lineup, though perhaps not as nice as the game which I had just left.
Pretty quickly I get involved in a hand where I overcall a raise in the BB with KQ, and see the flop 4 ways. It comes KQ8 rainbow, and I whiff my c/r. The turn was a 4 which put out a flush draw, so I led out 260 at it and get called by the first caller of the raise, a younger-ish guy who I don't recall having played with before. (When I say younger of course I mean like late 20's or early 30's, I am generally the youngest by far in this game of people who have real jobs and thus enough money to play in such a game, except for the exceptional few other young guys, most of whom also made their bankroll playing poker and thus are pretty good players.) Now where was I? Ah yes, the river came down another 8, which didn't concern me so much, but it seemed like a pretty obvious spot to let him bluff at me, so I checked and he took his time counting out a bet of $400, which I quickly called, and was surprised to see him turn over 44 for the boat. I silently thank him for not playing a much bigger pot with me, and take note of his slowplaying ways. Shortly after, the same guy gets involved in another pot where I see him slowplay a big hand, which is foreshadowing for the next one, my first particularly big hand of the day: I raise black aces from the small blind over a few limpers, and get called by this same dude, who was one of them. The flop came down QT5 rainbow, and I led out $300. He raised it without too much deliberation to $900, and I stopped to think. The deciding factor of course was that I had seen him slowplay two big hands already, on drawier boards than this, so I assumed his raise here was not a hand that beat mine. So, I called. The turn was a nice clean 6, and I checked to let him hang himself, which he did with a bet of $1200. I raised the rest in, about $2000 more, and he deliberated long enough before calling and telling me that if I had kings I had him beat. That was good news, of course. The river was a K, but his AQ was no good, and I raked in the pot of about $8600. He got up and left unfortunately, but I welcome him back in my game anytime.
Now at this point its getting later in the evening, and I realize that my image is pretty squeaky clean. I don't think i've shown down any big bluffs or really gotten caught speeding or anything, so I decide that its a good time to make one if I find a nice spot. The occasion arises when I open 98s from middle position to $80 and get called in a few spots. The flop comes down KK5 rainbow, which isnt quite what I was looking for, but which also gives me an opportunity to make a play. The blind checks and I check behind (sneaky, right?). Marcus leads out $160, the button folds, and the blind folds. I consider raising, but decide that c/r is a bit suspicious there and he'll gladly make a move of his own if he suspects anything fishy. Of course folding is out of the question, since then I can't win the pot, so I decide to call and lead the turn. Turn is a 4, I lead 300 and he calls after some thought. The river is a 2, I lead another 600 and he thinks for a long time and folds. Because having such a clean image is a rarity for me, and because I don't feel like I have a lot to gain by trying to get him steamed up, I just quietly muck it and move on.
The next worthwhile hand I play was also pretty great, I squeezed AKcc out of the blinds after a raise to $80 and several callers, making it $480 to go. The raiser (who, if you're a dedicated fan of these reports, was the same grouchy jewish guy who I stacked a while ago by getting it in preflop with 87s and flopping a straight against his queens) called, as did Marcus, no doubt greedily eyeing my deeper stack and his favorable position. Fortunately for me, the flop came down KJx with a club draw, about as nice a flop as I could ask for. I led out $600, and our grouchy friend shoved the rest of his stack in. I didn't really bother to count it before calling, because it clearly wasn't much more than $4k or so. I asked him how live I was, and judging from his reaction when I turned my hand over, a better question probably would have been "Did you bring more money?". A club on the turn sealed the deal, and he mucked his hand before a river was dealt. It was another pot of about $8500, I reckon, though its hard to count when you have to clean up a mountain of $20 and $100 chips spilling out so far onto the felt that the dealer has to work around them.
Well, there were a few more hands of some interest, though they mostly involve valuetowning somebody when I flop good, and from the looks of it this report is long enough already. So, I'll wrap it up. I left the table about 9, changed in my racks and racks of $20 chips in exchange for some of the big $1k and $5k chips (which are not quite 10k plaques, but pretty close. They're individually numbered and octagonally shaped, and generally pretty badass). Loaded them up into the ol' deposit box that I keep there, and headed back towards the city. When I got outside, though, it appeared to be all misty and wet and nasty, so I balled it up and put my bike in the trunk of a cab and paid the $40 to get a ride home. Booya.