I learned a valuable lesson at the Paragon Casino this weekend. Actually, it'd be more appropriate to call it an expensive lesson. Either way, it's one I'll never forget.
It started well enough, when I checked into an outstanding room. My contact at the casino sure does know how to make someone feel comfortable. I didn't think it'd matter much because I didn't plan on spending much time there.
I wish I had spent more time there...
Session #1: Saturday Afternoon
I got seated a little bit before 3pm. I was at a table without an automatic shuffler so it moved a little more slowly than I was used to, but I didn't mind. I bought in for $100 and settled in for a long session.
Things didn't go so well. I lost the first hand I got invovled in, and never again approached the $100 level. For the most part, I hovered around $40-$60 until I finally busted out.
Did I play poorly? Yeah, I'm sure I did. I was really playing with the casino's money. In the three trips I've made, I was up close to $2000. That's including the $1500 from the bad beat jackpot. So maybe I was a little cavalier with the money. I made loose calls and bad reads and the money just evaporated.
Even when I made good plays, however, I often saw my hopes float down the river. Every set I flopped fell to a flush. Every flush I found floundered to a full house. I couldn't catch a break. When I chased the flush, it never came. I don't want to blame the cards alone, however, because it takes a lot of bad plays to lose as quickly as I did.
At that point, I did what I thought was the smart thing. I got up. I felt a tilt coming on and I didn't want to compound bad play with irresponsible play. I promised I'd be back that night and I walked away.
Why, oh why, did I stop at the craps table?
I like to throw dice. Craps is the only game on the casino floor you should ever play (if you're going to play). With the 10X odds the Paragon offers, the house margin is down to just 0.184%. You can't find a better bet anywhere in the casino (except in poker, where your edge is based on your skill and the relative skill of your opponents, but we all know that!).
The dice were cold. In fact, despite their red color, I swear there was a bluish glow. I quickly figured out why the guy beside me was betting "wrong." It certainly paid to play the Don't Pass.
I obviously didn't figure this out quickly enough, because just five minutes later, I had lost $150. Yes, that's the compulsive part of the gambler rearing its ugly head. I tilted. And I tilted at a place where the money can disappear very quickly.
Session #2: Saturday Evening
I caught the news and a little SportsCenter then some dinner at the 50's style diner. I felt refreshed and focused and ready to play. It didn't take long to get a seat. In fact, I sat right down, in seat one at table 5. I'm not a big fan of seat one, it's kinda hard to see the table. This time I bought in for $200.
It didn't matter much what I could see because very little changed from the afternoon session. Looking back, I think I pressed a little more than I should have hoping to win back what I lost. Again, I didn't play my game.
Here was one of the few bright spots. I'm dealt K6 of clubs in MP and I call the BB. Seven of us see a flop of K-6-x, two spades. No help for my flush, but I did flop two pair. I bet out and get three callers.
The turn, of course, is a spade. I check, figuring one of the three callers caught his flush. There's another check and then a bet. I call and a third player calls as well. Why do I call? I don't know, maybe I'll catch my boat. When the river comes, it's a miracle 6. In fact, it's the 6 of spades, putting four to a flush on the board.
I bet. And it's raised by a guy who checked last time. I figure him for the Ace of spades. The third guy in the hand angrily folds, I figure him for a little flush. I re-raise and get a stunned look from the original raiser. He glances back at the board, and suddenly realized the boat possibility. He has to call anyway, there's too much in the pot. I flip my hand and take my only big pot of the day.
The last hand of my night wasn't successful at all. The guy beside me was about to go all in, and he was doing it blind. I was in the small blind when I got dealt K8o off. Not a hand I normally would play, but it only cost two bucks to see the flop, so I called.
Only three of us are in the hand for a flop of 8-8-J. Well, can't complain about that, can I? I bet, the blind hand raises and we both call. The turn is an A. I bet again, the blind raises again to go all in and we both calll. The river is a blank, it doesn't fill a flush or a straight. I figure I'm in great shape at this point. I bet, the other guy raises, and I start to worry.
I begin to slide in my call as he asks, "You got pocket Aces?" That could only mean one thing. He's sitting on pocket J's and the only hand that can beat him is Rockets. I flip my lowly K8 and I'm down to $100 of the $200 I started with. I decide it's time for bed.
Session #3: Sunday Morning
I got down to the poker room after the first table had already filled up. That means I'd have to wait for the second table, but I didn't mind. It wasn't long, and I got to sit in my lucky seat.
It wasn't very lucky this time. The first hand, I'm dealt J9 off. I figured one of my problems from the day before was playing too many hands, and since I'm in an early position, I throw it away. The flop, naturally, is Q-T-8. By the end of the hand, it's clear my nut straight would have held up.
A few hands later, I get dealt QJ off, and I decide to play it. The flop is K-T-x, two hearts. I check and the guy to my left bets. Two of us call. I wonder if maybe he's playing top pair. The turn is another K and the second heart on the board. I figure I should fold, but, for some reason, I call again. Three of us are still in. I still figure if I catch a straight, I'll beat the other guy's trip K's.;
The river is a 9 and I fill my straight. It also happens to be the third heart, but who's staying in for the runner-runner flush, right? I check, and the guy to my left bets. Then, to my shock, the guy at the end of the table raises! Alarms should be going off, right? He just caught his flush.
As I think about it, I can't believe he'd be playing for the flush. Why spend the money for hearts on the turn and river? I still think I have the guy to my left beat and figure maybe the guy at the end of the table also has the straight. I call the $16 and the guy to my left raises. Damn.
It's clear I just threw away $16. If he's willing to raise, he's clearly got the boat. The guy at the end of the table calls the raise, and I throw my straight away. The showdown is K's full of T's vs. a heart flush. I was beat two ways and still throwing money away. Chalk that up to a terrible read.
Another hand that seemed to epitomize my problems came late in my session. I'm dealt J9s in late position and I play it. The flop is Q-T-7, two diamonds. I'm sitting there with an open-ended straight draw and a flush draw. I've got about 15 outs at this point. The dealer was shooting blanks, however, and I got no help on the turn or river.
It didn't take long for my $100 to disappear, and I wasn't willing to spend any more money on this trip. Now I'll have to lick my wounds for next time. And there will be a next time!