The only game in town

You probably remember me talking about The Big Game a while back.  A several night a week game in a private apartment that raked the pot and supplied dealers.  The Big Game was extremely high class, with dealers who were all hot, occasionally wore corsets, and included at least one off duty stripper.  In the nicest apartment building in the city, I played cards at least one night a week in a place with a dress code.

After the Big Game closed I was dry for a while.  I played the regular Friday night game with my friends, but I think it was hard to concentrate when the stakes were $1/$2.  I tried to play my best game, but the combination of friends and low stakes meant that I had more fun than honed my poker skills.

Recently I heard about a new game downtown that was run the same way: private apartment, raked pots, and dedicated dealers.  It’s not classy, but it’s satisfyingly juicy.  The apartment is a dump, and though I won’t describe it’s location, it’s not a nice place.  It’s unfit for living in, and it looks like what you’d expect a place to look when 30 guys come through a place each night.

The dealers are fair, but male and unattractive even if I was attracted to men.  The rake’s high ($5) and I’m still not convinced that there aren’t people working together since all the players know each other so well.  But there are quite a few players that seem to have a poor grasp of the game and don’t mind bluffing off their whole stack with bottom pair.  I’ve even seen the Kurgan bluff-call, which still doesn’t make sense to me.

It’s the only game in town.

I had a few hours free and dropped in Sunday to play $300 No limit hold’em with $1/$3 blinds.  I walked into a post-tournament environment around 5:30pm and was happy to see the usual crowd of players hanging around.  They didn’t have the new game formed yet, so I tried something new.  I stuck my headphones in my ear, put on a meditation MP3, and started breathing.  I blocked out everything until the sound of people talking about me being asleep was too much to ignore.   I took my seat and assessed the competition.

Seat one was an unknown player that would prove to be talented.  Seat 3 was a man that Matt and I nicknamed the Kurgan, since he looks exactly like the Kurgan from Highlander (complete with leather jacket, shaved head, and periodic guttural noises).  I sat in #4, the Sweatpants Giant who is tricky but plays weak hands was to my left.  A young unknown kid (super tight) to his left, and then came my dream opponent: the guy from the music industry who flings chips with anything down to second pair. 

The toughest player of the bunch sat down next to Music Industry Guy for five minutes and then got up with his $1,200 and headed out, so the table looked soft.  It turns out there were still two talented players at the table (the unknowns), but I wasn’t about to sit down and start slinging chips before I had everyone figured out. 

I played one hand with Ace Queen, raised to $19 and got 4 callers.  I bet $50 into the all-rag flop, and got raised by music guy to about $150.  I pondered my mistake and tossed away my cards.  Tonight I had patience and I wasn’t going to give away my chips.  I slowly picked up a few more chips.

I looked down at a pair of 5’s and the Kurgan raised to $17.  I called and saw a flop of 6-6-5.  I was pretty sure I was going to be good no matter what, as he just as likely had two big cards, rather than an overpair.  He bet the flop, I called, then he bet the turn (a brick) and I raised him all in.  He called me, I showed my full house, and he mucked his cards.  Now I had $700.  I picked up some more chips and ran my stack up to about $800.

About ten minutes later I looked down at Five Three suited.  Music Guy raised to $20 and got four callers including me.  The flop came Queen Five Four.  Music guy bet $15 and I was the only caller.  The turn came an Ace and we both checked.  The river came another Five and I checked.  Music Guy  bet $50 and I raised him all in.  He asked me if I’d show him if he folded, and I said that was a $200 question.  He finally called and I showed him my three Fives.  He flashed a Queen and mucked his cards.  I now had about $1,050.

The final notable hand of the night I held Jack Nine.  I saw a raised flop with Seat One and Music Guy.  The flop came Jack Ten Three and music guy bet out $30.  Seat One checked, I checked, and Music Guy bet $30.  Seat One called, and I raised to $90.  Seat One called and so did Music Guy.  The turn came an Ace and I bet out $100 and everyone folded.    Finally my table image worked for me, which meant it was a good time to leave with my $1,100.  I cashed out and walked to my car with Music Guy.

I had been there for about ninety minutes and wondered what I was going to do.  I couldn’t just leave without pissing off the table, so I started folding all my hands.  Eventually when they needed to combine the tables, I volunteered to sit out and I cashed out.

My final profit came to about $354 / hr, which I think is a personal best.  I realized how much newly found patience I had (and lucky cards) and drove veyr carefully home.