You’ve gotta train to run a marathon

What’s it like to be entirely on top of your poker game?  Why let me tell you…

So I visited Lucky Chances yesterday and played a long session.  I intended it to be short but more on that later.  I did half an hour at $1/$2 spread limit and doubled up my $100 stack when my seat at the $6/$12 game was called.  I looked around the table, assessed that I was the player most likely to double the others up, and left.  I’m sure there was bitching about my hit and run, but who cares.

I sat down at the $6/$12 between a youngish looking woman and guy in a baseball cap.  The table was awesome.  I bought in for $200.  Most of the table had $150 in front of them, with three big stacks in excess of $500.  As I sat I realized that the player to my right was tight, the woman to my left was also tight.  The player 3 to my left had $600 and was winning most pots.  The other big stacks were directly to my left and right, and one was tilting and the other drinking.  This couldn’t be better.

I ran my stack up to about $500 and then went card dead for hours.  I mean hours.  I thought, "Hey, I could leave now", but then it hit me.  This table is still good.  A new player with a loud shirt (Asian Big Head Loud Shirt) came and raised everything.  He ran through $200 and bought $200 more and did it again.  He felted and did it again only more slowly.  This is how he played the rest of the night.  He’d get a decent hand, overplay it before the flop, and then whether or not he won or lost, would start raising any two cards until his money ran out.  Then he’d sit out of play for a bit and then buy in again.

As I caught second best hands or got eaten away by the blinds I established an incredibly tight table image.  With nothing to do except watch how other people play, the woman to my left started asking me where I was from.  As I rattled off the places I’ve lived and for how many years she said, "Wait, how old are you?"  "Forty"   "Forty?!  I thought I would be older than you, how old do you think I am?"

I love this game.  I looked her up and down, decent figure, no ring, mostly smooth skin, voice a little raspy from a lifetime of smoking, but not a full lifetime.  Hm.  I’m guessing no kids because she’s not married and she’s killing time here with no regard for where she has to be.  She’s also not chattering on about her kids like a proud single mother whose life is arranged around the child.    Also the way she spoke to the other men at the table suggested she wasn’t divorced.  (Hey it’s my gut, I can’t explain it).  Something just said it in her tone.  Slightly flirtatious, perhaps, with a certain naivete and no guardedness.

Hm, not the hands of a twenty something, but my range at worst is 20-39.  I put her figure and face at 30-39 based upon my gut check of her skin.

"Smile for me" I said. 
"No, no" she said, unable to keep herself from laughing.

I saw no frown lines, but ah-ha, there it was, crow’s feet around the eyes.  "Ok, I have a guess" I said.

"Keep it at the lower end of your range" she warned.

"You’ve never been married and almost certainly not currently, you have no kids and you’re about 37." I announced confidently.

"You’re wrong!" she exclaimed. 

"Really?"   I couldn’t believe it.  What was wrong?

"I’m thirty six.  How the hell do you know I don’t have any kids?  How did you guess my age?  How did you know I’ve never been married?"

I tried to explain it but she argued with me at every turn.  I finally gave up.  Sure I guessed at parts, and deduced some others.  I got lucky, but I was right.

Two hours later Crow’s Feet Girl got up for a smoke.  She came back and sat down.  She looked a little glassy eyed and I smelled ganja.  The talented player to my right and I looked at each other…"Herb!" we both said out loud.  "Good herb…"  I looked around the table until my eyes say on Crow’s Feet Girl, who had her hat and sunglasses on and was trying to look inconspicuous.  "You got high and didn’t offer us any!" 

"Damn, I was hoping the cigarette would cover the smell!" she said.

Shabbir’s perceptive powers: 2, Random Strangers: 0.  I should have bet money.

As the evening went on the table got better and better.  Six or seven people calling the flop about every third hand.  Usually I would be the only one out of the hand along with whomever happened to be away from the table at that point.  Two pair got consistently cracked when the board paired and the person with top pair (usually any Ace or King) hung around.  That taught me not to play any two random cards.  Playing them and hitting two pair wasn’t paying off enough.  I folded.  A lot.  Occasionally I’d run a bluff and win a pot I shouldn’t have.  I’d show the bluff and then go back to waiting for a good hand.  I made a bunch of money on that changeup.

We turned over a few players and the night crew from the Pai Gow staff got off work and sat down to play.  These are action players and the game got even more juicy.  Finally about 2am I couldn’t take it any more.  I had accomplished so many important things:

  1. I’d played through a long session with a big section card dead and practiced not loosening up my standards.   Awesome.
  2. I’d practiced changing gears from loose aggressive to tight aggressive and back again.  I practiced the skills to make the most money from it.  Awesome.
  3. I’d made about $30 an hour over a ten hour poker session.

Lastly, I’d played a long session without losing my focus badly at any point.  I never dipped below my original stack.  Because you can’t ever tell when you’re going to encounter a really juicy table, you sometimes have to play long sessions.  That patience pays off, and you have to develop it.  (Or at least I have to)