The Borgata, Noon
Sunday is a day of renewed cockiness. We eat the Vegas-quality buffett at the Borgata and head to the tables for our last poker session of the trip. After my success yesterday I sign up for a $3/$6 game. I sit down with $295 and play for about 2 ½ hours. I sit next to a guy who looks a lot like Kevin Smith (“Clerks”). In case you don’t know, Smith plays “Silent Bob” in his own movies.
Borgata, $3/$6 table: 12:30pm
A beginner poker player, a woman, beats my Kevin-Smith-looking neighbor with a pair of tens. He thought it was illogical to call the raises before the flop with it, and has now become sullen and hostile. Crabby Poker Guy (as I have now labeled him in my head) is now on tilt. He starts playing crappy starting hands, believing that his skill will allow him to make up for it. (Bradley’s tried this on me a few times. When I lose it’s because of his skill, when I win, it’s because I’m lucky. Yeah, it’s annoying. I’ve actually put my hands on his cards and told him, ‘When they ship me that pile of chips, you’re going to acknowledge that this was skill.’ It never works.)
Muttering under his breath, Crabby Poker Guy starts berating every other player at the table in a voice so low that only I can hear him. He’s got the classic problem that many good poker players have, which is that he underestimates poor players. Yes, poor players play hands they shouldn’t, but poor players sometimes get dealt a pair of Aces. And if all you can see is that pair of Tens they played against too many raises, it will affect your ability to read tell when they get dealt Aces.
Borgata, $3/$6 table: 12:50pm
I play a pair of 10’s too aggressively, but still end up beating the woman across the table that just played a pair of 10’s against Crabby Poker Guy. During the hand he asks me, what do you have? “Your facorite hand, I say.” After I rake in her chips, The Crab turns to me, sees my pair of Tens, and says, “Good”, meaning, “Good, take her money.”
No, not good. I do not want your affirmation or approval. This could become a bad dynamic. I start planning my departure.
Borgata, $3/$6 table: 1pm
I hear Crabby Poker Guy tell the guy next to him that he lost a grand on a football game last week. While they’re talking and his attention is permanently turned I take a good long look at my crabby neighbor. He’s about thirty years old and I notice he’s wearing what could be a wedding ring, but not on his ring finger, but the next one. A pregnant woman wearinig a wedding ring comes over and sits behind him while he plays and I overhear this conversation:
“Have you got my phone?”
“Yeah, right here in my purse. It rang before.”
“Did you answer it?”
He takes the phone from her and there’s a long, long pause.
“So…” she asks her husband/boyfriend/whatever, “Who called you?”
“Nobody, don’t worry about it.”
The uncomfortable silence that I assume punctuates their entire relationship continues and then he ignores her to play poker.
Borgata, $3/$6 table: 2:00pm
I hear Crabby Poker Guy’s phone ring. He answers it and I hear this half of the conversation.
“Hey, what’s up? Nothing, we’re down here in Atlantic City, just got here this morning. … Yep. I’ll have it Monday. Yep, I’ll have it after ‘the eagle lands’. Monday. Yep. Monday. You’ll have it on Monday. … Nope, just here in AC. Doing great, doing really, really, really great. Yeah, I’m up a lot … … Ok bye.”
I’ve obviously been watching him since he sat down like I study every player at the table, and I know that he’s only made $18 from where he started. And he tried to give $10 of that to his pregnant wife/girlfriend so she could get something to eat, but she refused it. They argued for half an hour while she refused to take his chips. I assume this is because if he loses he’ll blame her for taking some of his chips. I suspect his gambling is a problem in their relationship.
Borgata, $3/$6 table: 2:30pm
After sitting at the $3/$6 table and losing $93, I conclude that I’m functioning as a conduit in this game, and more likely to lose money than win it. Furthermore I can practically feel the karmic filth coming off of Crabby Poker Guy and sticking to me every time he snaps at his wife. Rather than tell him exactly what I think about the way he’s treating her, I decide I’m going to move to $2/$4 and go put my name on the list. As my turn comes to post the blind bets, I tell the dealer of the $3/$6 table that I’m out and pick up my chips. I kill a few minutes and then get called for a $2/$4 game.
Borgata, $2/$4 table: 2:45pm
I am playing amazingly fun and slightly profitable poker. My table is extremely loose and passive, meaning everybody puts in $2 to see the first three cards and people rarely raise. A series of people at the table win hands with straights, and the table becomes straight-obsessed. The players will play any two cards that might win a straight. I see two gaps (like 5-8) and three gaps (like 6-Ten) all played, and all unsuited. I focus on playing suited connecting cards and one gaps and the occasional unsuited connecting big cards (Ten-Jack or better). Because of the odds needed to play these cards, I can get away with doing it only when most of the table is in the pot, and there’s little chance of a raise. Thankfully this happens a lot.
The straight-obsession means that every time I have a shot at a flush I play for it. Quite often when I have three cards to a flush on the flop I play it. This is a hand I’d usually fold but I’m getting odds at every step of the way to continue.
The players chasing the straights happily put in money even after the flush card comes because they think they’ve won with their golden straights. Every time I have an inside draw or a flush draw, I have odds, and I make several bets for value on my draws, because if they hit, I’ll be showered in money.
Though most of the hands I bet for value don’t hit, I end up $19 up after three hours, making that a successful run.
Leaving the Borgata, 5:30pm
Bradley and I decide we’ve had enough. We could play poker right into the next millenium, but in fact, we have to go home.
The last thing I see as I’m leaving the Borgata is the pregnant wife of the crabby poker player, smoking a cigarette by the slot machines.
The trip back is uneventful, and Bradley and I spend most of the time on the NJ Transit train discussing his “blink-of-an-eye” loss of $300. His overall trip total is negative $700 and change, so he has to owe me for some of the cost of the room. I re-iterate again that he doesn’t make enough money to play $300 no limit, but I suspect it’s not sinking in. We part and I catch the Amtrak home where I head for bed with no poker in my immediate future.
Although not a profitable trip, it’s been an excellent poker lesson. I’m going to make less money than I had hoped this month as a result of this trip, but I have no regrets.
Day total: -$76
Trip total: -$262 (final)