May 31, 2006

Four Nines at the Tropicana

I woke up a week an a half ago (Saturday) with a wicked head cold. Of course, that weekend was graduation, packing/cleaning the apartment, capped off by a 12 hour car trip back to Delaware on Monday. It was probably as sick as I had been throughout all four years of college. The first thing I did on Tuedsay morning was go to the doctor - I'm still taking anti-biotics (can you mix that with alchohol?).

Side Note: No more than two minutes out of my driveway I was almost killed by a careening old lady who opted to disregard the red light at the intersection which I was in the process of turning left across. The headlines flashed before my eyes, "Recent Graduate Killed by Old Person on Way to Doctor's Office." Funny concept for a South Park episode, not as funny when you're actually staring down a little tuft of white hair above the steering wheel coming right for you at 50 mph.

The next Saturday was the University of Delaware graduation. I was able to skip the ceremonies while cashing in on a couple of graduation parties (all the free booze, none of the work!). What better location is there for a little after-party graduation celebrating than...that's right: ATLANTIC CITY. About seven of us piled into two cars and hit the Atlantic City Expressway at about 9:00pm on Saturday night. I had been to AC once before (Spring Break, Sophomore year - very not 21) but that was in the middle of March. The whole town was hopping, and it was my first [legal] venture into the big casino town. We hit the Tropicana and ended up staying there the whole night (well, there were a few side excursions, yeah, that's it).

I played poker the whole time, about seven hours straight. The room was enormous, probably 50 tables at least, and I was able to get a seat at a $4/$8 game without any wait. The game was delicious, very passive, a lot of really easy players, and I was doing well for the first couple of hours. At one point I had juiced my $120 buy-in to over $250. I could say that the following hours of reversal were a result of all that free alchohol (that's what I'm talking about AC), but that, in all it's Hemmingwayesque romanticism, would simply not be true. The fact of the matter was that I simply stopped getting dealt cards. Even if I did play a hand for a flop, I was mucking before showdown. I went for over two hours straight without winning a single pot, and my $130 profit had dipped to as low as a $50 deficit at one point. By the time everyone else was ready to go I had built my chips back up to only -$20, so I wasn't too adamant about staying at the table.

Interestingly enough, the hand that broke my two-hour losing streak was doozy. I was in the small-blind and someone had already raised the pot with one caller. I checked my cards and saw two black nines (the hand Hellmuth won with in '89). I just called, as did the big-blind. I caught a glimpse of a nine peeling off when the dealer was mid-flop, and was more than a little surprised to see a second nine hit the board as well. I checked, the big blind bet, and the pre-flop raiser raised. The guy between then cold-called the raise! And here is where I made my big mistake: I just called instead of reraising. Whenever people flop a fire-breathing monster like that they feel compelled to "slow-play" it (not much concern about someone catching up in the hand). But in this situation (unless someone had JJ in the hole) I had the board locked up - no one else could have had a nine, and with so many callers even a hand like AA or KK would be likely to only check-call the rest of the way. Of course, this is what happened, although no one even called me all the way to the river (yeah, there were some pretty bad players). The fact that no one called me all the way also gave me the opportunity to casually toss the four nines into the muck without a word - something which takes an inordinate amount of self-control, I will add.

I guess the easiest way to play quads on the flop is when someone else moves all-in in front of you (QT) Q77 vs. (77) and all you have to do is say, "Yeah, I'm gonna go ahead and call you."

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