I forgot how to do this. Do I stretch first? I don’t want to pull a muscle.
A couple of days ago, I was reviewing my poker sessions in the Poker Journal app when I realized that I had only played poker twice so far this year. I had a trip to Sands in Bethlehem, PA in late January and I had the recent pleasure of visiting the Coconut Creek Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida last week. As I reviewed my meager sessions, I thought to myself, “Of course its difficult to write about poker. I barely play.” But alas, I did play recently, so maybe this won’t be so hard.
Last week, I spent some time in Florida to see my grandfathers, both of which are around 94 years old. It was an overall wonderful trip. The weather was ideal in Florida while NY was hit by snow storm after snow storm; my extended family were a delight; and wifey Kim gave me a free pass to spend a night playing poker. Which leads us to…
Look folks. Despite my lack of play, I remain a bit of a fiend for the game. Parenting, however, takes its share of my free time, so when opportunity arises, I have to take whatever I can get.
Wifey Kim, the progeny and I had spent the day in West Palm visiting one of my grandfathers. We returned to my cousin’s home in Ft. Lauderdale and began the bedtime routine. My cousin has a 2-year-old, so we had everything we needed to make this an easy trip for a toddler. The plan was to leave for the casino as soon as wifey Kim took over the sleep routine. I do baths, she does books and putting him into his crib. Once bath was done, my cousin Jarrett asked about my plan.
Jarrett: “I haven’t been to the casino in a while. What do you play?”
Me: “Usually 1/2 No Limit or 2/5 No Limit. I know you don’t play poker, really, so you may not be interested.”
Jarrett: “No Limit? Yeah, I don’t think so. But I’ll still join you and play some of the other games on the casino floor.”
Me: (pausing) “Um, okay. But, well, look. I’m going to play poker and only poker. I’m not really going to be that great company. We won’t even be in the same area. And I plan on staying until 11pm and then leaving. So, you can come and I’d love the company, but I wanted to give you an idea of what I had in mind.”
Jarrett: “Yeah, that’s fine with me.”
Me: “Also, I plan on leaving ASAP.”
Jarrett: “Oh. Well, I still have to put sheets on the bed first, and they are in the dryer, so why don’t you go ahead without me and I’ll meet…”
I’m pretty sure he said that he’d meet up with me there, but I was already running out the door before he finished his sentence.
I rode the 20 minutes to the casino in silence, accompanied only by the sweet voice of Google Maps telling me where to turn. I parked in the self-park lot and made my way into the casino.
The casino itself seemed pretty large. The parking lot was far from full, but the casino floor seemed busy. I looked for signage that would eventually led me to the poker room. Alas, I could not find it until I got a bit closer to two elevators. Sure enough, the poker room was one floor up, away from the main casino floor, and in no time, I was in my place of comfort.
The poker room itself was fairly nice. I cannot say how many tables they had, but I would assume it was north of 30. There was a tournament going on off to the side, and 1/2 and 2/5 cash games running. There may’ve been other stakes/games running as well, but time was short, so if there were other games, it never registered with me.
I looked at the lists, considered my small bankroll for the day ($500 only, since I had to hit an ATM), and opted for 1/2 NLHE. It helped that there were seats open, whereas 2/5 would require me to wait.
I hit up the cage to buy chips. The max buy-in was $200, so I went with the max and found my way to Table 3.
There are rumors that Florida is a poker boom town. Yes, I know Florida is a state and not a town, but “boom state” sounds silly. Well, if that one table for around 2 hours is any indication, all the hype is true. Rather than a bunch of retirees, I had a table of young guys (and a few retirees). The young guns were apparently having a pissing contest, as each one showed more braggadocio than the next. Players were calling and betting loose, and gabbing the entire time. To their credit, this was a friendly crew and even when a player was lamenting a suckout, it was done with little venom.
I can only recall two hands right now, and I do not recall much in the way of detail. In the first, I was dealt AsTs and since action was loose, I opted to raise to $12. I got probably around four or five callers. The flop came down T93. With top pair, top kicker, I decided to bet my hand strong. I went with $45. It folded to one player, who called all-in for slightly less. We saw the turn (Ace) and river (another Ace). I flipped my cards to show my full house and take down the pot. That’s when the table started remarking about how lucky I was.
Me: “Well, I think I was ahead when the money got into the pot, but yeah, I guess a full house is lucky.”
Everyone Else: “No, you idiot. You hit a jackpot.”
That’s when I noticed the high hand jackpot, the lowest of which was $100 for Aces-Full. I went runner runner for a $100 bonus and I didn’t even realize that it was a possibility. The floor was called, I gave my license and signed a form, and received a crisp $100 bill (as opposed to chips).
The only other hand I recall was a flopped set. The board came down with two flush cards, so I bet approximately the pot, hoping to push the flushes out of the hand. I think my post-flop bet was in the $50 range. I got two callers. The turn was a blank, so I opted to push all-in. One player hemmed and hawed before folding. The other called for less. He only had around $50 behind. In hindsight, I should have been more aware of his stack size earlier, but I am not sure I would’ve done much differently, since the other player had the bigger stack. Regardless, he called and the flush came on the river. My opponent had K4s, and had flopped top pair with the flush draw, so I cannot blame his post-flop action (I guess). What he was doing in a raised pot with K4s, though, is beyond me.
I had a great time joking around with the table. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If you are going to play poker, you should strive to have fun whether you win or lose, because there will be days that you are destined to lose, so you may as well enjoy yourself. In this case, I won, $154, including the $100 jackpot. It was not an impressive sum on its own, but considering that I only played for around 2 hours, it wasn’t a bad showing either.
The next morning, I took my grandpa out to breakfast with my cousins and paid for everything with my winnings. After all, if you cannot enjoy the money, what’s the point.
Now, I just need to find my next opportunity to play.
Until next time, make mine poker!