I’ve been in Kansas City for a few days now with my family, and got the chance to play a little live poker tonight at Harrah’s. There are a few things of note about this casino and its patrons:
There are some ridiculous rules regarding entry and buying chips, primarily as a result of ridiculous Missouri gambling legislation. When you enter the gambling area, they have to check your ID as well as your Harrah’s card. In other words, nobody gambles without a card. Its pretty much just a hassle, but I hate hassles. Also, there is a rule that you can only purchase $500 in chips every two hours. I guess this is supposed to keep people from losing too much, but again, is mostly just an inconvenience for people like me who don’t have gambling problems and do understand reasonable variance in a no limit poker game. Obviously there’s an easy way around it if you’re a local, you just keep your live roll in $100 chips so you always have enough and don’t have to deal with buying more $500 at a time, but if you’re from out of town you basically have to not lose much within the first few hours. I think there are also some rules about gambling having to take place in a boat or something, so the casinos just build next to the water and keep all the gambling parts over it in some sort of half-building, half-boat that obviously never goes anywhere.
While the poker room is smoke-free, the rest of the casino is incredibly smoky, and I hate it. I guess i’m spoiled in California where you aren’t allowed to smoke indoors anywhere, but cigarettes are gross and I don’t want them around me. Vegas is also pretty bad in this regard, but the casinos there tend to be bigger and/or better circulated so I guess the smoke dissipates a little more.
The biggest game regularly running is 2/5NL, with buyin from $200-$500. There used to be some rule about being able to buyin up to some % of the big stack at the table, but they abolished that since the last time I was here. Not that it would matter since it took me several hours to have more than $500 chips to work with anyhow. There is also a 1/2NL game, and a 3/6 limit game. All of these games are very soft. There are obviously a lot of regulars who are decent, but seeing as how the stakes aren’t high enough to attract any really strong players, they aren’t great. Put them in a big NL game in California or Vegas and they’d get to’ up. I heard rumors of a 5/10 game that runs a day or two every week, with buyin up to $5000, but didn’t hear anything more about it. Wilt, who lives in KC, said that there are is a core group of regulars who allegedly collude in it, which is lame, but chances are I won’t have a chance to confirm or disconfirm that anytime soon.
Anyhow, when I first arrived there was a long list for 2/5 but I got right onto a 1/2 table. The first hand I was UTG, got a hand without having to post (niiice) and picked up a nice little wired pair of jacks. I raised to $15, not having any idea what the standard was in this game but figuring I may as well build a pot. UTG+1 reraised to $30. Sigh. It folded back around to me and I called. Flop came out AJJ, giving me quadzilla. I check-called a bet of $15 (lol) and led out $40 on the blank turn, at which point he folded QQ faceup. Obviously I showed my quads, and everybody oohed and aahed a little as they tend to do. (Side note: over the course of about 6 hours of play, I saw people show down quads 7 times, 6 of which were flopped. Most ridiculous session in that regard i’ve ever played. It got to the point where we joked anytime the flop was paired, “who has quads this time”, and like 1/4 of the time, somebody actually did have them.) Not too much else interesting happened at 1/2, aside from me getting aces and stacking a shortstack.
Shortly thereafter I was moved to a new 2/5 table, where not much happened of note aside from one pot where I ran top pair into (you guessed it) quads. Actually was a pretty funny hand; I raised JTo from late position to 25, a woman in the blinds called, the rest folded. Flop was T54 with a FD, she check-called like $35 or something. Turn was a 4 (check check) and river was some other low card that put out the flush. She bet $40 and I called, not really expecting to win but curious to see what she had. 44 quadzirra obviously, valuetown to the extreme! I was moved to a different table pretty quickly.
My stack at the new table dwindled a bit, I don’t recall any particular big pots but I lost a series of small ones and kept reloading with the extra black chips I had bought after the next 2-hour time period arrived (so I was in for $1k total). At one point I tried to go get more chips (after the next 2 hour block, of course) but the computers or something went down right about then, and because they couldn’t swipe my Harrah’s card effectively, they couldn’t turn my cash into chips. Harrah’s clearly has this business all figured out… Anyhow, I still had about $400 in chips when this next hand happened: A late-position guy raised to $25, and because he was bad and I hate folding “decent” hands in live games when I figure to have a big edge, I called with A2dd out of the SB. Everybody else folded, and the flop came down AKT rainbow. I led out $35 to find out where I was at. (note: this doesn’t really work against “good” players who have any idea what kind of hand ranges you’re likely to do that with, but this guy was pretty bad so it worked like a charm). He called. Turn was a 4d, putting out my backdoor diamond flush draw. I checked, he bet $35. I did a little dance on the inside when he made that bet. One of the greatest joys of live poker is playing against guys who have absolutely no concept of fundamental no-limit concepts, and thus offer up such golden opportunities to you. I called, of course, and the river was the 9d, giving me the stone cold niggity-nuts. I thoughtfully checked, he bet $100, and I shoved in the rest, another few hundred. He made a comment to the effect of “well if you’ve got it, you’ve got it” and called, flipping over KK. Booya. He spent the next few minutes mumbling something, but I wasn’t paying much attention or offering much sympathy. Chances are if that guy adjusts his game as a result of that play, it’ll be to vastly over-adjust and overshove the turn “just to keep people from sucking out”. I love fish.
A few hands later, I pick up the ol’ pocket rockets in late position and raise over a couple of limpers to $30. The SB, a nitty old guy with about as many chips as me ($850 or so) reraises to $100. Now when a nitty old guy reraises there, it means business! I thanked the poker gods that I didn’t have QQ instead, and called his reraise. Flop was a nice little 554r, he bet $200 pretty confidently, I put on a little “sigh what a lame spot i’m in” act and called. Turn was an 8, he bet out $300, again confidently, and I went ahead and raised in the last $250 or so. He reluctantly called, and when I showed down the aces he slammed a fist full of chips on the table. Ship it. He continued to slam his fist on the table intermittently for a few minutes, at least until he got moved to a different game. He also shoved his new $200 stack preflop a few times over $5 limps, but never was called. One time he actually showed QQ, which I found to be quite amusing.
After those few big pots, I sorta coasted into the end of the night, winning a medium pot now and again with the ol’ valuetown maneuver. Nothing too terribly interesting, i’m afraid. I didn’t really bluff any, but I didn’t have to. The players, by and large, were very weak and bad. Anytime you raised the turn, they’d probably muck anything but the nuts. So I did that a few times with semibluffs and always got away with it. I also was rarely c-betting the flop multiway when I missed (and most pots were multiway), though the few spots I did pick to fire one light, I got a line of snapfolds all the way around, which I appreciated.
In the end, I booked a $1300 win, nommed down a breakfast burrito (recommended by the other guys at the table as the best option from the little cafe downstairs) and some mozzarella sticks and some chocolate milk, and somehow was able to cash it out without any stupid hassles (thanks, Harrah’s!). Not a bad night, though I’ll be glad to fly back to San Francisco tomorrow since its awfully cold here.
Sensei's Poker Dojo