I again apologize for the long delay, but as many of you are aware I’ve been in
For those of you who don’t know, food is free in SoCal casinos if you ball up high enough. Fortunately for me, the “high-enough” line is drawn just south of 20/40. Therefore, between the free breakfast at the hotel, comped food at the casino, and complimentary beer/cheese/wine/burgers spread at the hotel at night, it was challenging for me to pay for anything the entire trip (I still manged to do so, though, as Chris and I went to about 2 bars per night). In short, I’ve managed to fatten myself up right smartly just in time for Christmas. I feel like a ham.
So I land Sunday about 30 minutes before kickoff of the Steeler’s game and Chris and I opt for the Rock Bottom Brewery for our viewing pleasure. He is a Patriot’s fan (each man has his fatal flaw), and is also embroiled in an epic fantasy football drama in which 4 teams are tied for the last two playoff spots going into the final battle. Our powers combined (my iPhone and his Yahoo account with StatTracker upgrade) have us sitting in the restaurant watching six tvs drinking 22 ounce beers constantly checking the latest fantasy scores. Chris has to win to get in, but he also needs help, as his team has scored “a few” less points than the others he’s fighting. Every time a touchdown is scored we have to figure out what team’s chances were affected. When the smoke settles, Chris not only loses his game, but gets neither of the help options he would have needed. The Pats, however, win, because they are protected from on fucking high and even the power and glory that is the Chad Pennington/Brett Favre and Tom Brady/Matt Cassel exchange system seems not enough to knock them off their high horse. The Steelers basically lay an egg for the first 54 minutes but then the Cowboys manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of certain victory. Steelers on defense having just tied it up, Romo with 1:50 left and 2 timeouts. First and ten, gain of 3. Timeout. Steelers. Romo looks confused and quite frankly insulted. I mean, the game is tied right? Cowboys have the ball. Shouldn’t the Steelers just be trying to force a little bonus football? Nope, not when your defense is the best in the NFL statistically since the ’78 version of your team. Mike Tomlin goes deep into the defensive playbook and calls the “Pick 6” on the very next snap. Ball game. There is much rejoicing.
The rest of the day is a bit of a blur, as Chris and I meet my Sigma Nu little brother Akash for Mexican food and I continue to drink beers. We are offered a comp’ed dessert due to an order screw up, and try to turn it into a margarita with mixed results (margarita does appear…but we pay for it). Then we somehow wander to another mexican place for coffee and to watch the end of the Raven’s game. A good time is had by all, and eventually Chris drives us back to our hotel room (unbeknownst to me, he stopped drinking a while ago). Before the hotel though, we drive to Thrifty to add me as a driver on the rental car and exchange it for one that has cruise control. This is to be the first in a series of rental car incidents. As we leave the rental car lot Chris notes that the “idiot light” on the car seems to think the back right tire might be a little light. We inspect the tire and it seems fine. Carry on....
7:30am, time to go to work. Chris and I eat the free breakfast and I eventually arrive at Ocean’s 11 around 9:30. The first thing I notice is that no one is manning the board up front, which is a giant projection on the wall listing all the games and the like. The reason? She’s playing in the 8/16 game. She gets up to help me, and tada! I have a seat. I sit down and play for about 75 minutes (There was no 20 game yet, and in fact I was the first person on the list for it. A regular told me the game broke 15 minutes before I got there and would probably fire up again in an hour or so. Given this it was clear my “No 8/16” policy would not hold for this trip), win a good bit, then promptly lose everything back and more in one hand. It’s a full kill game, and it’s a very passive table. Very little raising going on, preflop or otherwise, and that which does go on tends to indicate some sort of near-nut holding. It’s raised and re-raised in front of me by two of the nittier players, but I peek down and find two lovely ladies in the hole. Honestly this is the worst pair I’d have played; Johnnies were going in the muck. You simply can’t lay down queens preflop in a limit game so, “Cap it up!” I declare. This is a kill pot, so it’s actually played at double stakes (16/32) and the killer is yet to act. He calls 3 bets cold, and we see the flop 5 ways for 4 bets each….the mountain of chips is preposterous already, as each bet was 8 chips….there are 160 chips in the pot already with one player exactly all in.
The flop comes off ten-high and the killer donks it. The original 2 and 3 bettors call and I pop him one time. His response is a turbo 3-bet, and the two players in between us now fold (LOL…the 3-bettor HAS to be making an awful fold now given his possible holdings and the size of the pot. I am happy) and I call, going into show-down mode. The turn and river stay small keeping the board ten-high, and the killer then reveals to me a fine pair of kings. As I muck my hand the grizzled old regular next to me declares “I think that’s the biggest pot I’ve ever seen in this game”. I got skillz.
I leave the game stuck a little over a 100 and find myself in one of the best 20/40 games I’ve ever seen. I mean, this game would be noteworthy at either Bay 101 or Garden City. There are 3 guys playing almost every pot for almost any number of bets. They go too far with their hands, yet are passive post flop. It’s incredible. 5 hours later I’m stuck a mere 3 racks and decide to pick ‘em up for the day. Nothing terribly interesting happens, I just can’t flop a hand to save my life. I didn’t want to check bags on the flight, so I left my scooter at home….
I drive back to the hotel and Chris, myself, and his co-worker Matt resolve to go to the KarlsStrauss Brewery. We walk outside and find our
The next morning I arrive at Oceans around 9:15 and find the 20/40 game going. Heads up. I cannot resist and take a seat in the game, with a younger Asian guy on my left and an old white man on my right. They have both been playing all night (and admit so) and are both stuck pretty bad I would imagine. Asian kid has about 2 racks on the table, and whitey 3. Twenty minutes later I am all in and the Asian kid is showing down his 4th flush. He wins the pot and I buy more chips. The rush he was on was unlike anything I have ever seen. He was showing down hands that would be considered incredibly strong at a 9 handed table. I raised preflop with Ace-Jack and proceeded to flop broadway. Turn and river? Heart heart. He makes the flush. I flop second pair Ace kicker. What does he have? Top two. Rivers the boat. I raise AK and the flop comes down raggedy. He raises me and I just call. Then he checks behind on the turn, and the river deuce makes his A2o good over my nut no-pair. He toilets me (I make a flush, but lose to a bigger one…only 3 diamonds on board). Interspersed with his repetitive anal rapings of me were penetrations of the old white guy. In 20 minutes he had taken a rack off of whitey and both of mine. Then a fourth guy sits down, and almost simultaneously Asian guy quits the game. I glare at him, but it’s his money now and he can do whatever he wants with it. 25 minutes later I have every chip on the table…New guy flops top two on a board of J84. I have Ace-Jack and quite a bit of action goes in. Turn is a queen and at this point I’m a little worried and have entered call down mode. River queen, and MHIG as his pair of 8s get counterfitted and my Ace kicker drags the pot. This busts new guy, and I presume the game is dead. No no, whitey hasn’t had enough. He wants to play heads up. OK, I say, sure. The dealer has to explain to me how it even works (who is which blind and what not), and then I promptly win like 4 or 5 hands in a row, first spiking a set of 7s on the turn to crack his AQ, then value banging him 3 times with K3 on a board of 234-4-J and watching him show Q2, and culminating with my Q5 cracking his AA on a board of QJ3-7-5 when he gets it all in on the turn. Now I’m sitting all by my lonesome and count up my chips: 2177, for a win of…$177. This experience actually gave me “the rush” I used to feel when I played higher or went on big hot streaks. It was incredibly awesome.
Then I sit in the 8/16 game for 90 minutes and lose my customary 200 dollars.
Time for more 20/40, and it’s again an awesome game. I play for almost 6 hours and post a loss of 55 dollars. This hand can basically sum up the game.
A good young probably pro (only decent player at the table) open-raises and like 4 people cold call to me in the big blind. I behold the Queen and the Deuce of the spades and call, accurately estimating my pot odds at 11:1 with fantastic relative position post-flop and a bunch of mouth breathing donkeys on my right practically braying already. The flop comes off and the door card…the Jack of spades. Great I think! The next two cards are…the red deuces! I have flopped gin! I check, young kid bets, like everybody calls, and I raise. The young kid tries to fold but can’t and everyone calls. The next card is a small spade and I lead out, collecting two calls from the aforementioned mouth breathing donkey chorus. The river brings a 3rd spade, and my hand goes from fantastic to just really freaking good. I bet and mouth breather A raises me…I almost have a stroke, declare after some thought “I call only” and he tables K4 of spades for a winning hand. Everyone is stunned, and does the whole “double take look at the flop what did you call with there sir ah yes I see you had a non-nut back door flush draw on a paired board that is a fine call sir yes most excellent”. My composure does not break, but I get up soon, resolving to bring my scooter tomorrow and make these guys pay.
That night I learned to play “Sliders” from Chris’s coworker, and it was quite a good time. We were lazy and stayed in the hotel, mainly because of the free cheese/crackers/wine/beer spread they put on in the lobby that we hung out at for almost 90 minutes. Afterwards we didn’t really want to drive anywhere, and there was nowhere to walk to, so we just played cards and ordered a pizza. Good times.
Wednesday was a marathon/clusterfuck/disaster/debacle/any other bad words you can think of describe a day of gambling. I get there and there is one table going. 2/3 no limit. I sit in and am dealt cards 4 times. On my very first hand the flop comes down K83 rainbow and the player on my left is min-check/raised. He goes into the tank for I’m not kidding here over a minute. Then the min-raiser flashes him a king. The player continues to tank for another minute, and then folds, showing A8. How the fuck do you need a minute to figure out you should lay down second pair in a no limit game when somebody just showed you top pair? It hurt my brain and offended my dignity even to watch this crap, so when they opened a 4/8 limit game I jumped right in. That game was also awful from a “wow who are these people” point of view, and I lost 20 bucks in 45 minutes. Then the 8/16 game opened up and I proceeded to lose pot after massive pot for two hours (still no sign of a 20/40 game. I am irked) until I finally made queens full of aces on my final hand before moving to the
I see a free flop with something like 345Q and the flop comes down 337. Not bad I say, and I bet. Two people call. The turn is another 7, and so I bet again. I am called once more. River ace, for 337-7-A and I bet and get raised. I call and am shown AAA5, a terrible, terrible starting hand. I drag half the pot, as my 45 wins the low, but his aces full crack my set of 3s.
Finally at 1pm the 20 game gets called down and starts 6 handed (despite the fact that there are now over 15 names on the list). I play for 2 hours, drop 200 bucks mainly because for the first time I can ever remember I laid down aces on the flop in a live 20/40 game because I felt I just had to be beat…not only was I good, but they held up, too. I then make a bad call down with red nines on a jack high board that finishes off with 4 clubs. What’s the solution here? Play bad? Run bad? Move up! They open a 40/80 for the first time and I grab a seat. I proceed to play like a donkey mis-reading my opponents and being confused by the massive amounts of aggression in the game. I miss value when I should 3-bet the turn. I call down when my opponents actually have top set. In general I can’t do anything right, and leave the game 2 hours later stuck 400 bucks.
My net total for the trip was a loss of nearly $2200, which I have to say isn’t exactly what I wanted to have happen. The last night Chris and I went out in the Gaslamp Quarter and had an absolute blast, walking from bar to bar to bar with live music and dueling pianos, one right after another. Watching a guy spend 20 dollars to stop “Sweet Caroline”, only to have someone else trump him with more cash and have the song play out to completion on the piano, was absolutely priceless. The trip was fun and I wouldn’t think twice about doing it again; I’ll just remember to bring my scooter next time.