After doing pretty well in my own home tourney (warning, to you tl;dr fools... you're not going to want to read THIS post, either!
, I decided to parlay some of my gains.
So, after recovering from my tourney and getting a little rest, I was in the Harrisburg area on Monday and decided to detour to Hollywood Park- Penn National casino again (I had stopped by, when previously in the area, to eyeball it when I was sick)…. but this time, I was going to play for a few hours, before heading home.
I arrived shortly after 2 in the afternoon on a Monday and there was an "Open Seat" sign on the message board for $3/6 limit hold'em- what luck! But, the man in front of me, who evidently didn't want to wait on the $1/2 NL line, changed his mind and took the seat, as I was walking up… dammit!
The board listings, as I waited for the limit hold'em to open up again, had the following:
One table $3/6 hold'em
6 tables $1/2 NL, with eight on the list
One table $2/5 NL, with nine on the list… but five names were flashing
An interest list for $5/10 NL with a single person on it
Evidently, hold'em seems to be the only regular offering, at least on a weekday, in the 12-table room.
I discreetly checked out the $3/6 table while I was waiting- many of the players were older, with two women out of the 10 players. In fact I only saw a total of three women at the time. There didn't look as if there was a lot of action going on at the table- I was going to have to change that!
As I was waiting, I talked to the female security guard that was stationed in the room… and found out that she wasn't bored! The casino evidently had a "one guard in the poker room at all times" rule! What kind of craziness should I expect to happen??
After about 15 minutes, a seat finally opened up and I took it, not far from the blinds hitting my seat. I waited until the BB, folded my hand after the flop, then got to the SB… when I got to fold ATo after a raise and call.
Then, the unlucky dealer (Mr Ugghhh, we'll call him), deals me Jacks on the button. I limp, the BB raises and I raised him on the Ten-high flop. I led out on the turn Ten, get screwed by the river Ace… and find out, when I check behind, that the younger player in the BB had Aces wired the whole way!
That was the start of losing half of my buy-in… while I watched other players do things like reraise twice on a four-diamond board.. with a 5d (and lose, of course)?? Loose undercard calls on a King-high board, with people betting the whole way? pleaseplease PLEASE give me some cards, Mr Ugghh!!
Then, the female dealer taps in and my fortunes change dramatically. Along the way to swinging all the way back into the black, for about a half-buy-in, I bet a turn and river Ace, gets two callers?? I raise UTG with Queens, get a middle caller with K6, who calls me down after a JJ6 flop and a river club flush is possible?
I'm really REALLY liking the possibilities of this table!
One funny hand sequence- the old rock to my left shows me a 2c on a misdeal. The very next hand, after I fold, he shows me the 2c again, as he folds 52o.
(Note to newer live poker players out there- when the poker gods give you a clear signal, it behooves you to follow up)
Of course he would have flopped the open-ender and turned the straight…
Then, Mr Ugghhh comes back, and I'm on tilt before he even starts dealing. I don't think I tipped him a single time in his first down, and I was on my way to not tipping him on this down either… as he once again fed me a steady diet of missed nut draws, straight-draw-adds-flush-draw-bricks-river hands and other fun stuff.
Another poker tip from your Uncle LL- when your unlucky dealer comes back to the table, it's another sign from the poker gods. Translated, it boils down to "Tighten the **** UP, you moron!"
It took me too long to figure out that message, unfortunately…
I also finally figured out a few things-
First: one gentlemen across the table was Mr AceChaser. If he had an Ace, he was calling a raise.. and then betting out first. I got silly a couple of times against him, until I realized that he'd have it every time. That saved me several bets later on, when I raised UTG with Kings, then watched him bet the flopped Ace … but more on that later.
Second: The $6 rake was NOT a $5+1… it was just a nasty $6 rake! So, the jackpot hands that I had been playing were a wasted investment- oops!
Once again, my favorite lady dealer returned to lift me up.. though initially she was sullied by the remaining plague of Mr Uggghhh. By that time, a number of players were falling into the infamous limit "hey, we'll all just call along with anything and see what the flop brings!" rut. I became one of the few players raising, and I was still getting callers because of the wider-than-normal raising range that I was using.
In the meantime, the rock to my left saved his dwindling stack with Aces vs. Queens. On the next hand, he played the Doyle Brunson, caught trip Tens and a turned forth one.. and still got a river caller on the overcard Queen!
Then I won a hand, decided to play my rush and raised UTG with J8s. I got a few callers and saw the beautiful JJx flop.. and still had a woman call me down to the end, before folding (perhaps the King on the turn convinced her to stay?
The next hand, I limped along with others after the rock said "Give me a King!" That was just what I wanted to hear with my BB 65o, especially after the board came Kc7c3h. The turn was, of course, a four…. and two players called my check-raise (including Mr Rock), yet couldn't beat me after I checked the river Tc ??
At 4 p.m., the Hollywood Park's board looked like this:
$3/6- 1 table, 6-deep list
$1/2 NL- still six tables, eleven-deep
$2/5 NL- two tables, one on the list
.. and three players on the $5/10 NL interest list
The $3/6 limit table fled the room when the deck change occurred… with good reason, as it took much longer than I thought it would. My favorite dealer wasn't the fastest card checker, evidently…. and she even asked us players who came back early to check the decks as well, before she got started? I don't know if that's a standard procedure or not…
Mr Ugghh was back soon afterwards, ready to screw me over once again…. and he did, with a KT to me, a K9x flop, 9 turn that no one raised, and a ten on the river to trap me for an extra bet… against 97.
Then the old rock on my left was on the button, and as I limped with Queens behind 5 callers, he raised with the spoken "If I lose this hand, I go home". Great! After everyone calls his raise (???), I was happy to limp behind his Aces or Kings.
The flop was a gorgeous Q22 and three players besides the rock called my raise, while the rock was all-in. However, on the turn 3, I got checkraised by an older player in middle position?? Fearing that he must have quads, I called… to see the ugly King on the river and a "That's the card!" from the button (dammit!)
Amazingly, I didn't lose the side pot- which, by the way, was half a buy-in…. and yet only about 30% of the size of the main pot, that KK on the button snatched away from me! It turns out that the check-raiser had…. 52o.
The loose play continued when some "waiting for a game" NL players sat down. After raising with some weaker cards, and getting called (and losing) several pots, one of the NL players raised from the button in a 7-way limped pot, getting… 7 callers, of course.
He raised again on the 8d7dx flop, losing no one… and lost one or two on the Kd turn. At that point, I spoke up and said "Someone is looking for the deuce of clubs!"
The river card- was there any doubt? My Negreanu-like psychic ability threw off the button a bit, but he still bet out and got a few callers… and turned over his 96d for another huge pot.
I wasn't getting that kind of fortune, however, even after the next shift of dealers came in (included a fairly experienced dealer who ran the games pretty well, but talked a little too much between hands) and I had to rebuy soon after I flopped top two on a 962 board, got four callers of my check-raise…. and then got rivered by a ten after a turn deuce.
If my notes are correct, there were three hands that I re-raised early in the hand, but got rivered, to further chip away at my stack and my patience. About this time, I noticed more clearly what I found as a rather irritating problem- the operation of the floor personnel crowded around the entrance desk, and their lack of timely board management.
Supposedly, part of the problem at Hollywood Park- PN is that some of the waiting list is on beepers (if I understood the one dealer correctly) and they therefore don't call the names. While it's nice to see the same names flashing on three different lists, it isn't all that wonderful to have open seats and watch four or five names, the entire list on your game, flashing. Clear the damned board already, and let the people protest when they get skipped! That's why several people skipped over the list, into open NL seats, and you had to chase them down later!
It's especially bad when you see two floor personnel doing all of the table handling.. while THREE floor/mgr types looking at spreadsheets AT the desk, while also partially blocking access! The sign-up desk is too small to house the floor people, including the one who sells chips, and so man of them stand on the outside… and set a really REALLY bad customer service message.
Another suggestion to the floorpeople there- have one person escort the player to his seat, carrying his chips (really, can't THEY do that themselves?) while the other person sells chips and tries to call players. I'm sure they lost a number of waiting people, who didn't see the board names change but got to see a lot of flashing names…
It will also lead to less stress, perhaps, for the woman who was manning the board and who snapped at me when I lightly touched her back shoulder and informed her that we had three seats open.
Back at the table, my fortunes were still going downhill. After I noticed people calling me down with Ace-space, I decided it was time for a break and a reload, as I was down to three red chips. I got more money (for what is a somewhat-reasonable $3 ATM fee), grabbed a quick hot sandwich at the nearby food carveout (though a microwaved ham & cheese on a plain hamburger bun wasn't spectacular), sat back down….
After stacking up my chips and folding the hand that was dealt to me, I noticed that I seemed to be short a red chip, from the ones I'd left on the table!? I'm not 100% sure, but be warned…
It was 8:30 p.m at that point, and there were still 9 tables going on- I'm not sure why they didn't try to fill the three empty tables, perhaps they didn't have enough dealers on shift? I would only see two dealers in rotation for much of the shift, at our table. Word from the experienced dealer was, Hollywood was planning to build a bigger poker room upstairs, with around 20 or so tables, and start offering tournaments at that time.
My run of fun fortune continued, when I raised that KK UTG, watched the AJx flop and AceChaser bet it, allowing me to fold easily on the turn… and then I had the perverse pleasure of seeing AceChaser get rivered by a Ten (JT had called the whole way).
At 9:45 p.m, the list was two-deep for $3/6, fifteen deep for $1/2NL and seven-deep for the two $2/5 NL tables.. while the interest list for $5/10 NL had grown to seven players. I don't think that they ever did call for that $5/10 game.
I was starting to yo-yo, from hand to hand. I called a raise from Aces with JTc, called on the flopped Jack and then got to raise all-in for my last $6 when the turn Jack came.
But, the next hand, I raised with KQo and get called by Aces, in the hands of a woman who told an inquiring mind that she never raises preflop. Sure, NOW you tell me…
I saw Aces in the SB get called through the river on one hand…. And then I lost more of my chips when my 76c on the button saw a Ad5c8c flop and got nowhere else, against A5o.
But then, as the evening got later and later, I worked my mind out of tilt and the cards started to change… plus, the table started getting short-handed, which I was happy to take advantage of while the players cycled through.
We lost old rock, soon after a brash older NL player decided that he could run his AK over and through the rest of the table. When the case Ace flopped, he was good to raise and push through the river… while, unsurprisingly to me, the main pot was scooped up by old rock's pocket rockets. He folded off a few more hands and then departed.
I was able take advantage of AceChaser several times, getting him to call my preflop AJ raise and then come along on the Ace-high flop. Later, I got him to lay down an Ace-space hand on the river, after raising preflop and betting the King-high flop through then end (with my whiff!).
He did get some chips back from others, after he limped UTG with Aces and raised the 55K flop… then, on the next hand, getting eights to stand up. But, by the early morning, he'd rebought, dumped off most of it and left while I was slowly but steadily building my stack back up from the depths…. A satisfying moral victory, if not a fully lucrative one.
More NL players who either busted out of their table, or were waiting for an open seat, would cycle through… usually falling prey to various people, with the classic NL failings of over-aggression and shock at the types of callers they were getting. It's funny to see no-limit players get bamboozled out of their gourds by late-night limit players…
One other ugly fact that I stumbled across, at this time- there is no half-rake rule for we poor souls, propping up their limit game short-handed. In fact, word was that the game would be broken up when we got 3-handed, even though we were the landing pad for various players! A pretty short-sighted policy, given the way we propped the game up until after 2 a.m.
The ending was a little strange- a young woman, who'd hit a slot machine for four-figures earlier in the evening, sat down next to her short-stacked friend who'd been playing for a while. Stuck friend somehow talked her into actually playing… and she had NO clue on how to play poker. Even worse, she was hitting the flops, but not enough to save her from a beating.
I was kind enough, after flopping a full house with pocket eights, to not raise her post-flop, and to tell her "Don't call me" when I bet the river…. But, she still did. Her "friend" and others weren't so kind, perhaps because they were stuck much worse than I was at this point, and she paid off multiple check-raises on the same hand to one player.
When she busted out of her small buy-in, she and the friend left for the evening/morning…. And the floor came over to close down our 3-handed table. I didn't feel like playing $1/2 NL at that point, and so I wrapped up my 12-hour session ahead on poker, but down overall to the ugly $6 max rake, draining $1 dealer and waitress tips. Given that I had been down over two and a half buy-ins, that didn't seem like such a bad place to be….
Oh, just remembered something- why, exactly, don't they have any of the boards facing the poker room? Are they getting THAT much grief from the players about the list management? If so.... TAKE THE HINT!