Saturday, December 20, 2003

A New NLHE Game and One Key Hand

James, our poker room manager, seemed very eager to tell me that the Belle is going to try a small NLHE game. The buy-in will be a min/max of $200. Blinds are 2/5. Not bad. We will need to rely on the Californians to keep it
running, but if we get lucky enough, it just might stay healthy.

Since I chopped the tourney, I wasn't able to sit in the NLHE game until we were done. By that time, it had been going for an hour or more. To my surprise, most of the players were locals. This was good and bad. Good because I have a very good read on these players, and they don't shock me much, when they expose their cards. Bad because it gets harder and harder for me to extract the maximum value
out of any winning hand that I hold.

Although I said I wasn't really interested in cash games anymore, spreading the NLHE game brought new life into my soul. LOL. I haven't played that much live NL. The Riverside spreads a small game, but their rules state that NO ONE can go all-in before the flop (this doesn't include those who are short stacked and go all-in with the 2-6 spread limit betting, naturally). Since there is no way to
protect a premium hand before the flop, we must play "limit" style, calling raises with drawing hands, then dumping them after the flop if we don't connect solidly. It really is a sucky game, barring those times when players are absolutely nuts.

Anyway, the only other time I've played NLHE live is at Binions, which was a rock garden when I visited (late Monday night during Thanksgiving week).

I bought in for $200 and had to take the one seat. The game was nine-handed. It was clear that most of the players had never played NLHE before.

I looked over at the eight seat, which is where Glenn was seated. He had almost $600! The max buy-in is $200. I tried to ask him what happened, but he just kept shaking his head, like he would tell me later. Maybe he didn't want to embarrass anyone at the table. I probably just would have said, "I tripled up with a flopped set," which is what happened to him, being called all-in by two players:
top pair, poor kicker with the nut flush draw, and another player who mucked upon seeing Glenn's set. Glenn tries to be super-polite in all situations. An admirable trait, which I do not possess.

Sammy, a Riverside dealer I've profiled before, was in the nine-seat. He was raising any pot he was involved in. His strategy was raise or fold.

I was really only involved in one hand of mention during my hour of play. I had AJs in MP. Sammy was UTG and raised the $5 blind to $20. In MP, I flat called. It was passed to Glenn, in the BB, who folded. The flop came Axx. Sammy bet $40, I called. The turn was another rag. Sammy checked, I bet $80, I believe. Close to the pot, but sparing my whites. Sammy thought about the bet for a long time.
He finally folded, flashing ATo.

Although I would love feedback on this particular hand, I think I will start by saying that I know Sammy very well. His play is predictable. He is a typical rammer-jammer dealer. He will not often limp, but prefers to raise, with a variety of hands, before the flop. Although I didn't know what he had BTF, I figured him for ace-something. Sammy is the type who would elicit callers with anything
higher than AJ. He would not bet 4x the BB. Same goes for any premium pair. Then, when the ace hit on the flop, Sammy would have bet less had he possessed a better kicker than mine. By that time, he wanted the pot, uncontested. When I stayed with him, he had to have known my kicker was superior, hence the check.

So my errors in this hand might include betting too much on the turn, driving Sammy out, when I should have wanted a call. Since my read of Sammy was correct, I should have tried to keep him in the pot.

Pre-flop, I'm not sure if I made any errors. Naturally, I wanted to see the flop, but I only called, in case someone in later position has a premium hand. I could have gotten away from the hand if I'd been re-raised.

I guess I perhaps "chickened out" on the turn, trying to just win the hand then and there. Comments?

I had to cash out of this game after only an hour, with a pounding headache. I figured that my play would deteriorate if I kept trying to play-through my headache.

I hope the Belle can keep this game alive. I would love to see it spread regularly!

Felicia :)