It is, perhaps, an unfortunate name for a city.
But the Cajun people of Louisiana took care of any problems by using the more impressive French version.
Last night, a coworker asked me if I wanted to play a little poker with some of his friends in Baton Rouge.
My answer? Oui, oui!
When we arrived at the home game (about an hour drive from Lafayette), we found six players set up in an outdoor carport around a little six-person fold up poker table. They had just finished a quick SNG.
It was chilly. The temperature was down in the 50's. Unfortunately, living in the south for the last 5 or so years has thinned my blood enough to make temperatures in the 50's feel chilly.
The 8 players all bought in for $20. We started with T500 in chips with blinds starting at 5/10 and going up every 15 minutes. Second place would get his money back and first place would get the rest (minus $10 for food).
The other players were immediately impressed by my Check N' Raise card protector. If that's what it took to impress them, I wondered how they would react when I check-raised them on the turn.
I didn't play many hands to start. I really want to get a feel for the players at the table. In general, they weren't very good. There was at least one player I was worried about, but beyond that, I figured I could outplay the table, if I got at least a few cards.
The first hand I played was KJs UTG. I simply called the T10 blind. Four of us saw the flop that came K-x-x. I led out with just T25. Jay, the player to my left, quickly called and the other players folded.
Jay was a loud player. He was listing to an IPod and continually announced what the next song was, often "singing" along to some parts. He made lots of loud declarations that were mostly meaningless, but he seemed to enjoy them nonetheless.
The turn paired the board and put two diamonds on the table. I led out again with T40. Jay asked me what my kicker was. I didn't respond immediately and then finally told him I was on a diamond draw, that he should call me. He did.
The turn was a blank. I led out for T50 and Jay flipped up his K. Apparently this was a common strategy for him. A completely illegal strategy, but this home game had pretty loose rules. His goal when he does this is to get a reaction out of his heads up opponent. He hasn't announced his intent to call or fold, he just wants me to know he had a K.
Like I didn't already know that...
He said, "You've got me outkicked... you've got King-Jack."
"Maybe," I said, "But look at that board... if my kicker is less than a ten, we'll split the pot. You might as well call."
He did. I flipped KJ. He flipped K2. He seemed proud about the fact he read my hand. I thanked him for calling me anyway.
I took a few pots down here and there on either good hands or appropriately timed steals. I always had enough chips that the blinds didn't bother me. In fact, the blinds moved up at a slow enough rate that I actually didn't mind the structure (5/10 to 10/20 to 15/30 to 20/40, etc.).
The next important hand I played would be deadly.
I'm dealt AQo in early position with 5 players remaining. The player to my right, the one I was worried about, had a huge chip lead. I raise to 3xBB. A player with a stack slightly shorter than mine pushes all in. The chip leader thought for a moment before folding. I decided to call.
He flips pocket T's. I'm a little worried because I think the chip leader might have folded one of my outs. I put him on Ace-rag. So in my mind, I have about 7 outs. The hand analyzer tells me my opponent has a 57% chance of winning the hand.
Then comes about the worst flop imaginable. T-2-3. The other guy flopped a set. I've now got just a 3% chance of winning this hand, and the only chance is runner-runner to a straight.
"Just give me the 4-5," I said.
The turn is a K. Not real close to the 4 or the 5, but suddenly I have outs. I've suddenly got a 9% chance of winning the hand!
"Give me a Jack!" I yell.
And that's exactly what the dealer did. Runner-runner straight to knock out trip T's. I almost felt terrible... except for the fact that I won the hand. I was amazed at how well the other guy took it. I'm not sure I would have taken it so calmly.
Eventually we got down to the 3 players. I was 2nd in chip position behind the Kevin, who had played well early to build a huge stack, but had been bleeding chips ever since. Sitting in 3rd was Ryan, who played extremely tight early on and nearly got blinded out before making a nice comeback.
The play was rather tentative, but before long, Kevin was the short stack and Ryan and I were about even. I'm really not sure how Kevin blew his big lead, but it happened.
It was cold, and things were dragging. I was getting to the point where I thought I'd just push to see what happened. I'm involved in a hand with Ryan where I've got an open-ended straight draw with just the river to come. He pushes all in with bottom pair and I call. I don't catch, but I've still got him out-stacked.
A few hands later, I push with Q7s and Ryan calls me with AQo. I wouldn't normally push with Q7s, but, like I said, things were dragging. I got no help and I was down to just about T500, well behind Ryan and Kevin.
I started pushing with just about anything but getting no callers. With blinds at 75/150, I was building back up to a respectable stack. I'm shocked I was still alive.
Eventually, I had Kevin outstacked when we both saw a flop of 9-5-5, two diamonds. I was holding Q3 of diamonds. He checked, and I checked behind him. The turn was the 7 of diamonds. He checked and I bet T100. He raised to T300. I knew right there he was slow playing trip 5's.
I pushed all in and he called saying, "You have the diamonds?" I nodded and flipped my flush. He flipped 5-2. He had a few outs for the boat, but a 4 on the river sent him packing.
Ryan and I battled for awhile heads up. I was up early, but eventually he took a lead. Then came the pivotal hand. We were roughly even (he had me by about T200) when I'm dealt AJo. I min-raise hoping to get re-raised so I could push. He just called.
The flop is J-x-x. I check and he immediately pushes all-in. I call and flip the one hand he didn't want to see. Ryan was holdling KJ. He was in serious trouble. The K never came and it was all over but the crying. Next hand he was forced all in with 8-5 and my J-T won unimproved.
It was a handy $110 profit. Cold poker at the Red Stick works for me. I believe that it's the kind of game that I could win 7 out of 10 times, and they apparently play every week. Can't wait for next Thursday!!