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January 9, 2010

Looking over the past few entries here, I realize this has quickly become something of a fail blog. Bad session here, bad play there. Got unlucky, got two-outered, etc., etc. etc. So, with that in mind, it’s nice to actually post something about a winning session.

Granted, I wasn’t feeling particularly confident on my way to the Venetian Friday afternoon, what with Wednesday night’s $900 loss still fresh in my memory. Still, there were lots of CES and porn convention attendees in town, which meant there’s be a lot of money up for grabs thanks to drunken, tired, gamboozely tourists. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

The fun before I even set foot in the casino, as I boarded an elevator filled with female porn stars (none of whom I recognized) on their way to the convention floor. With their collection of silicone enhancements, I was surprised I even fit in the elevator. Still they were fun and funny, and made the 30-second ride more enjoyable than usual. Inside the Venetian, the scene wasn’t much different. It seemed that there were porn stars hiding in every nook and cranny available. Hell, even a losing session would be made bearable just by watching the freak show parading around the casino.

The poker room was, as I hoped, packed, but I quickly got a seat at a brand new $1-$2 table. Most of the table was pretty tight, aside from the guy who started in the 3 seat – and who quickly moved to the 5 seat in order to gain position on me after I beat him in two pots early on. Other than him and me, however, only two other players seemed willing to put their chips in the middle with anything other than the stone-cold nuts.

One of my more entertaining hands at this first table came a couple of hours into the game. My new friend in the 5 seat put on his usual straddle and four players limped in before action got back to me in the big blind. I looked down at 7-10 of diamonds and couldn’t see any reason not to throw an extra $2 into the pot. As the dealer scooped in the pot, I joked that I needed a very specific flop. So what did I get? 10-10-7. Yahtzee!

Action checked around to the hijack, who led out for $15. I flatted and the rest of the table folded. The turn brought a harmless 5, and I again check-called a bet of $40. The river was another brick – a 3, I believe – and I figured the best way for me to get my opponent’s last $80 was to take control of the betting, which I did by pushing a $100 stack into the middle. My opponent quickly called and my neighbor in the 5 seat joked for me to show the 10. “I’ll do you one better,” I responded before flipping over my boat. My opponent looked disgusted as he mucked what I suspect was Ace-10, and I took down a nice pot.

The action on my table didn’t improve over the next hour, and I finally managed to secure a table change, grabbing a seat near Elissa. This new table was one of the strangest I’ve played in a while, with the 2 seat holding a monster stack and the 8,9 and 10 seats all nursing stacks of less than $100 each.

It took about an orbit for me to become involved in my first hand. The player in the 8 seat, who had shown himself to be both clueless and horrible, raised to $10 from UTG. The short stack in the 10 seat called, as did the big stack in the 2 seat and his buddy in the 3 seat. Action moved to me, and I looked down to find pocket Kings on the button. I quickly raised to $50 and the cowboy to my left made the call from the small blind. Elissa folded her big blind and the UTG player re-raised $100. The 10 seat called all in for his last $30 and the other players folded. Action got back to me and I re-raised all in for $300. The small blind folded and the 8 seat announced that he had 10s before putting the rest of his chips in the middle.

The flop of Q-J-9 didn’t make me happy, but tilted the cowboy even more, as he claimed to have folded Queens. I faded the remaining straight draws – which was easy to do, as the 10 seat held my other two Kings – and took down another nice pot, even with what I lost by chopping the main pot with the 10 seat. The cowboy went on a nice five-minute rant after the end of the hand, bemoaning how he would have won everything if the 8 seat had only played his hand properly. I kept agreeing with him, trying to push his tilt level higher and higher, which worked for a while until he finally got fed up and left.

I took his seat so that I could more easily converse with Elissa throughout the night and quickly made another one of my improbable full houses on the next orbit when I limped into the pot with 8c-10c from the small bind. I led out for $10 on a flop of 8s-10h-Ks and got called by the frat boy in the 9 seat. The 10s on the turn was magic, and I bet another $30, which was enough to put my opponent all in. He called with his Ace-high flush draw and was surprised to find out that he was already drawing dead.

One orbit later, I made my third improbably house of the night when I limped from the button with 5h-2h and again flopped the joint on a 5-5-2 board with two diamonds. This time, my victim was the three seat who bet out with the nut flush draw. I flat called and we both checked the King of diamonds on the turn. When he checked the river, I bet $30 and he check-raised to $100. I re-raised an additional $100 and he happily called. Thank you, come again.

I’d like to say all of these pots came my way because of my brilliant play, but that’s not completely true. Sure, I do think I managed to maximize my profit in each hand, but the fact is, I was just running hot against the right opponents at the right times last night. As opposed to Wednesday when nothing worked and my big hands wouldn’t stand up, last night was a cake walk. It seemed like I couldn’t miss.

In fact, the only hand I think I misplayed during last night’s session came near the end of the night on my final table. The player UTG raised to $10 and Michalski called as did the 2 seat. Action got to me and I looked down to find A-K on the button. I quickly raised to $50 and the UTG raiser called, as did the two seat. The flop was ugly – Q-J-Q with two hearts. Action checked to me and I got gun-shy, figuring that one of my opponents in the hand could have easily connected. The free card brought the 6s and action checked to the 2 seat, who bet $50. I called, as did the player UTG, and the river brought the 7c. We all checked, and the 2 seat showed 6-7 for two pair and the winning hand while the original raiser showed pocket 4s.

In hindsight, I think a strong continuation bet on the flop could have taken down the pot, but I just didn’t feel comfortable putting the chips in the middle after two players called a $40 preflop re-raise from out of position. By playing safe, I lost the minimum on the hand, but I feel like I missed an opportunity to add an additional $100+ to my stack by firing on the flop.

Overall, I can’t complain though. I more than recovered the $900 I lost on Wednesday and, just as importantly, I found my confidence again.

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