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High On Poker

A Grain of Sands

August 29th, 2017

I’ve had a very interesting few months, and an even more interesting few months on the horizon. The biggest item that has been monopolizing my attention are three upcoming trials. The first will be my first solo NY trial. It involves a man whose hand was crushed in an elevator door. The second and third trials are my two largest cases. The second involves a man who suffered nerve damage to half of his body due to an electric shock and the third involves a man who lost his hand in an industrial meat grinder. The last trial I had (my first solo trial ever – in NJ) was at least two years ago, so I have to use legal muscles that have atrophied a bit.

So, what does a responsible adult with two young children do when he has a free day? You got it! The Sands in Bethlehem. I was lamenting to wifey Kim how I really wanted to go, but I could not get over the guilty feeling of leaving her with the kids, not spending every waking hour preparing for the trials, and spending money that should be preserved since we are in the process of buying our coop unit. She was encouraging me to go, but I still could not shake the feeling that she didn’t want me to go. She was on the phone with her bro, bro-in-law Marc, and mentioned, off-hand, how I was considering a Sands trip the next day. He volunteered, “I’d go. I was thinking of gong anyway.” Wifey Kim passed along the statement, and suddenly I had to go. After all, I didn’t want to let Marc down.

The next morning, I got up early and took the subway to Manhattan. Marc was driving and he picked me up before entering the Holland Tunnel. We had an uneventful ride, catching up and having the type of conversation two friends and bros-in-law can have only when they are both staring forward in a car with nothing else to do.

We arrived at the casino around 10:15 or so. We put in our names for 1/2 NLHE and waited patiently. They opened a new table (my favorite) and we both took seats. When we play, we do not initially acknowledge each other’s existence or our relationship. We sit far from each other at the table, build a rapport with our neighbors, and interact only as one would with another stranger at the table. We do this, I think, for two reasons: (1) we do not want anyone even thinking that there is any collusion going on – and to be clear, there is no collusion at all, and (2) if we were chatty, we may give off info about each other or even give off info subtly by how we play against each other.

I took the 2 seat, and regretted it after an orbit or two. I likely have already mentioned this here, but poker players in a poker room are like human pinballs. They cannot navigate a 6 foot space without bouncing off of the chairs that border it. After being bumped into more than a few times, I asked for a seat change, eventually moving to the 8 seat (out of 9), which was against the rail.

I do not remember most hands, but one scenario in particular stood out to me. There was a player who had won a bunch of pots. He was a good player, but not great. I was admittedly playing a bit weak passive, and I got the sense that he thought he could read me. Well, he couldn’t. In two major hands, about an hour apart, he incorrectly folded, saying that he knew I had made my hand (I was bluffing) and called saying that he knew I didn’t have the flush (I did). It felt good to have my opponent read me wrong twice, both to my detriment.

I had amassed a decent stack, around $500 on a $200 buy-in, and then went card dead. I was folding for a long while, but I did my best not to fall into the “this is the best hand I’ve seen in a while” trap. Sometimes, in fact, even today in a blog post on another site, I’ll see players say, “I played K9 because it was the best hand I’ve seen in hours,” or something similar. There is no logic to that statement. In fact, its complete trash to think that way and will only cost you money. The other players and the poker gods do not care that this is the best hand you’ve seen in a while. If its a crap hand, its a crap hand. Plus, even if you card dead, if your opponent is getting hit with the deck, your K9 is still not going to beat his KK. Which brings me to a hand between Marc and I.

When I moved my seat, it put me two spots to the left of Marc. After being card dead for a while, I was dealt KK. I raised pre-flop, and a calling station across the table called me. Marc also called. The flop was K-high. It checked around to Marc, who bet. I called, to keep the calling station in the hand. He called as well. The turn was a blank. I bet, the calling station called, and Marc raised. Hmm. I decided to flat calling, hoping once again to keep the calling station in the pot. Alas, he folded. On the river, I made a large bet and Marc called. He had KQ, for top pair, strong kicker. That last bet was probably $100+, so I do not know why he thought he was good there. Alas, he did it to himself. Ka ching.

I made what may’ve been a mistake in a late hand. There was a player who had amassed a large stack and was the type of player who will bet any pair . I had flopped the joint, a low straight, with suited gappers (57). I let him lead the flop. On the turn, I raised large. He had bet $30 and I upped it to $130. On the river, I pushed all-in for about $300 more. He thought for a minute, decided that I definitely did not have the 5-7 straight, but then folded, claiming he had two pair. I mulled over whether i could have kept him in the pot for less. Surely, he would’ve called $100 or even $130 again. Alas, I ultimately decided that my play, while not successful, was justified. The players around me all thought I was trying to steal the pot with the shove, especially since my opponent was a bit of a bully. I was hoping to give off that impression. So, even if it didn’t work in that instance, the play was at least justifiable.

I was able to lay QQ down once. Preflop, I bet and was met by a raise and a call. I flat called because the raiser had not re-raised pre-flop a lot, despite being a fairly loose caller. The flop was all unders, but the raiser raised again, this time for a tidy sum. The caller called all-in for less. I decided that QQ could not have been good. As it turned out, I was facing KK (raiser) and JJ (caller). So, good for me, I guess.

The game really got the poker juices flowing, but with three major trials that will take me straight through October, it looks like there is not much on the horizon. If only I could play on some awesome website that would allow me to play without the travel, I could work some poker into my schedule without having to leave my family for a day. I miss the days of getting dozens of bloggers together from around the world to play some online poker and socialize, like some sort of worldwide mobile casino party. At least I don’t have to travel all the way down to AC, though.

Until next time, make mine poker!

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