Friday, May 15, 2009

Old School: Limit Hold'Em

It's not only on the Las Vegas strip that you'll find soft full-ring limit hold'em games. I hadn't played live poker since my first-ever blogger winter gathering last December, and I was hankering for some live play. Recent online shenanigans meant that I needed to get back on the horse and if that meant enduring the slower pace and other inconveniences of a second-rate public cardroom, so be it. So I found myself at Vancouver's downtown casino, not more than ten minutes' drive from my humble abode, and patiently waited for a seat in the biggest LHE game in the room - a 4/8 kill game. As soon as I sat down (in seat 3), I recognized this game was a gold mine. Tons of weak passive play, not many preflop raises, transparent opponents who would pay off TPGK on three streets ... this game had it all.

Unfortunately, I lost the first four pots (including two kill pots) I played so after three hours I was sitting with less than half my starting stack.

Then I was finally able to get some positive momentum. I actually got some cards (AA in a five-handed kill pot is a recipe to recoup some losses) and flopped some hands. When you can get in for one bet with suited connectors in late position, eventually you will rake in some monster pots. And that is what happened.

The first big pot featured crubs, which always get there. I called a raise in the big blind with the mighty 47cc getting about 8:1 on my money. The flop came down Kc8c5s. I checked, the player to my left bet, and two players called. I decided to check-raise with my flush draw + gutter. The original bettor called, and then the villain in seat 7 three-bet. But before I could put in my call, the dealer precipitously acted and dealt out the 6c on the turn! The floor was called, I inwardly winced as the card was set aside, the two of us put in our calls ... and I was rewarded as the Tc rolled off. Was there any doubt? So I check-called the turn, then finally donk-bet the river and was paid off by 9c7s and K5o. Crubs: good for what ails you.

The second one featured spades, which is assuredly the boss suit. Again, limped in with A8ss in late position. The flop came down 933 with two spades. The small blind led out and there were a couple of calls. The turn was a spade. Small blind led out again, I smooth called, and a loud drunk overcalled. The river blanked, the small blind led out yet again, I raised, the drunk called two bets cold, and the small blind reluctantly called. My hand was good as the drunk cheerfully flashed the KQss at the table.

Then the rush came as I capped off the night a solid winner with three more racks than I started with. At one point I kept the kill button and won five consecutive pots, the last three as the game was kicked up to 8/16. The first of the five was an amusing one. A Crasian sitting two to my left had built up from a paltry $80 to about $250 and proceeded to donate a bunch of it in my direction. My 89 of spades flopped an open-ended straight draw, got there on the turn with a spade flush redraw, and he went to war with a flopped bottom two pair -- raising me on the turn, and paying off my check-raise on the river even though a heart flush completed. And the next four hands, I just kept flopping something as the rest of the table missed, and got paid off twice by the young Asian kid sitting two to my right in seat one, who literally played 85% of his hands. He just didn't believe me or wanted to fulfill his role as the table payoff wizard as I showed him two pair and a straight to crush his meager holdings.

As the night came to a close, though, it was readily apparent to me that it was time to book the win. For one thing, I was inwardly harping at myself as fatigue caused me to miss about three clear value bets where I left money on the table. For another, another 4/8 LHE table broke and we got three new players. A nails-on-the-chalkboard late middle-aged woman with a thick Eastern European accent kept talking off my left ear and I couldn't successfully tune out her inane babble. Add the fact that the loud drunk to her left kept getting louder and more obnoxious, and my concentration began to waver even more. He kept asking the dealer how much he could bet on every street, and his comedy act wasn't getting any laughs from anyone. And as two of the table donators racked up, I followed suit, since I knew I was no longer playing my "A" game.

Part of me thinks I should start playing in the juicy 5/5 PLO game (max 1K buyin) that regularly runs here (they also sometimes get a 1/2 game going). At first, I might just experiment with short-stacking the game, but the play looked so bad (players were regularly calling pot-sized bets with bare eight-out draws, and entering pots for a raise preflop with hands like JJJT) from what I saw I should probably just man up and get ten buyins together for that game. I typically haven't put most of my live bankroll at risk for any one game, but the opportunity might just be too great to miss out on. I could easily envisage nights where I could buy in for $500 and walk out the door with 3K.

Opinions on this last issue are welcome.


Gnome said...

You talk about not wanting to put your live bankroll at too much risk, but I suggest an alternative outlook:
Don't differentiate between your live and online bankrolls. Look at it as one combined bankroll. If you loose your live bankroll money, you can always withdraw from your online bankroll to replenish it.
I generally abide by the bankroll rules of thumb: 20 buy-ins for NL, 40 buy-ins for PLO, and 500 BBs for limit hold'em.
However, I don't see anything wrong with your idea of gathering 10 buy-ins and giving a soft game a shot.
PLO is swingy as hell, so halfstacking is a good strategy to remove some of your risk.

Shrike said...

The 10K budget divided into twenty half-sized buy-ins has considerable appeal. Good idea. I'll keep an eye on this game to verify how soft it is over a larger sample before I take a shot.

Riggstad said...

I would expect, at the level of play you described, that most aren't buying in full anyway.

a $1k buy-in is a double stack for 5/5 table so I would assume you're half buy0in would be fine.

Depending on eager people are to get it in on every friggin street, that is :)

Schaubs said...

Let it ride.