I like the Coushatta Casino poker room. In fact, I like it even more now that they have their $200 NL tourney every Saturday. It's T8000, 25/50 starting blinds and 20 minute levels. Not ideal, but with
40xBB 160xBB to start, there's time to play poker. Unfortunately, you have to make moves in the later levels to survive.
I played well in the tourney, but it went horribly downhill after when I stepped up to the $5/$10 half NLHE, half PLO, no max buy-in game. That was a first for me, and I learned a valuable (er... expensive) lesson.
Meet the Luckbox
I played pretty solid poker, I thought, in the tourney, except for one or two bad plays. I was around average stack for most of the day before making a big late move.
It really started when I made a move with A3 from the SB after an Ace hit the flop. Unfortunately, UTG had A8. I wasn't too worried, though, because I figured at worse, I was getting a chop. The chop card never fell, but the 3 on the river doubled me up.
The very next hand, I got in cheap from the button with 78s. I flopped open ended and it was checked to the river where I caught my straight. I bet the minimum and the guy I just bad beated pushed all in. I called. He hit a pair on the river and was going home.
The table considered me pretty lucky at that point.
The Big Stack Arrives
Suddenly I had a really nice stack, until a bigger stack sat at my table. She was a 20-something woman who I would later learn had amassed that huge stack by playing almost every hand and catching. It didn't take me long to guess that on my own based on her play. She would be the one I played against from there on out.
The first time we tangled, I had A4s in LP and a short stack was in the SB. I raised enough to put him all in. He called and then the big stack woman also called. Okay, I guess she'd help me put him out. The flop was A4J. Bingo. She lead out. Wha?
It was a dry side pot and she lead out. Guess I needed to find out if she had AJ, so I raised her. She thought forever before saying, "Do you have an Ace?" What the f$%#? She bet into a dry side pot without an Ace? I immediately marked her as an idiot. She folded, my hand stood up.
Awhile later, I get K9s in late position and I raise it up. The big stack woman calls me again from the BB. She could literally have anything. The flop is Q22 and she checks. I pushed all in. She thought and thought and thought. I considered calling a clock and decided her best nickname was Tiffany Williamson.
She eventually folded 55 face up. I flipped up my K9s and the table reacted. The guy to my left (a nice guy named Cesaer) said, "Hey, the ladies game is down the street," an apparent tip of the cap to Mike Matusow and his kiddie games.
That was the last good play I made.
Tiffany min-raises from UTG and it's folded to me. I have her slightly outstacked and I looked down at 88. The blinds were 3000/6000 and I had 52000. Despite being the table's big stack, my M was just 6 (M=number of orbits you can survive the blinds).
I had a couple of choices: first, I could fold (although I didn't believe her), second, I could just call and see a flop (although I'm commiting a quarter of my stack to a call and leaving myself with an M of 4 and the blinds approaching) or third, I could re-raise all in.
I elected to re-raise all in. I knew no one else would get involved and I figured I was likely ahead. If her hand was marginal enough, she'd lay it down. This time, there was no Tiffany action, she insta-called with AKo. A king on the flop knocked me down to just T12000.
The next hand, I'm dealt Big Slick suited. Here's the irony. No matter what I had done on the previous hand, I would have been eliminated on this one. Here's why...
UTG pushed all in with his short stack. I would have re-raised all in to isolate with my AKs. There were another two shortstacks that called behind me and then Tiffany called us all. The hands (pre-flop odds):
UTG: 88 (15%)
Hero: AK spades (22%)
Shorty 1: KJ hearts (19%)
Shorty 2: A5 diamonds (13%)
Tiffany: TT (28%)
Guess who finished last? KJ flopped and turned Jacks and the A5 rivered the wheel. The board was 2J4J3, no spades. And I was out. Perhaps I should have played the 88 differently, but I'm not sure the outcome would have been any different. I figured I was ahead, and was willing to race. Chips were at a premium and you have to win races to win tournaments. I lost.
The Big Game
After the tourney, I figured I could win my buy-in back and then some at the soft NL games. But this time, I was intrigued by an interest list for a 5/10 NLHE/PLO $500 min buy in game. I had the bankroll to take a shot and wanted to see what my game was like.
When we finally got a full table, I bought in for $700 with $300 on the table behind it. No one bought in for more than a grand. The game would switch each time the button got back to the 10 seat.
I did pretty well early, chipping up to more than $900 in chips, mostly winning with PLO. I flopped Broadway once and rivered quads once. I guess it doesn't take much skill to win those kinds of hands.
Everything went down hill when I bet right into the immortal nuts. That's not good poker strategy. I'm sitting in the SB with QTs when there's one limper to me. I complete and the BB checks. The flop is Q66. Both blinds check and the limper bets half the pot. I call and the BB folds.
The turn is a 6. I figure that's a good card for me, right? It's gotta be, right? How many hands beat me at this point? I can eliminate AA, KK and QQ because he would have raised with that. Is he holding a 6? Could he really be holding a six? How bad is my luck that the case 6 would hit the turn?
I lead out this time and he cold calls me. The river is a T. That doesn't scare me at all. I suppose an Ace or a King would have saved me money. I'm guessing he's got a Q or maybe a small pair. I really didn't consider a 6.
I lead out for $75 again and this time he raises me $300. There's now $660 in the pot and it costs me $300 more to find out how unlucky I am.
"Wow, if I'm beat, that's really unlucky," I say. And decide to push my $300.
"That's really unlucky," he responds and flips 56s.
I was pretty stunned at that point. I lost more than half my stack on that hand and I didn't like it. Should I have folded? The guy was pretty aggressive and had pushed a number of bad players off pots. I had also seen him show down some pretty bad hands. I think I made the right play.
I went to my favorite cafe there and ordered my regular: Open Faced Hot Roast Beef Sandwich on Texas Toast with Mashed Red Potatoes. Mmmmmmmmm...
I wondered if I should go home. I had made some chips while there were some small stack bad players at the table. Suddenly, I was one of the small stacks and starting to believe I might be one of the bad players. I took most of dinner convicing myself that wasn't the case. I was going to go back and beat this game.
I played for a few more hours and gave away the rest of my chips. Thankfully, I kept my cash out of it. I know why I lost. I was scared.
Every time I got into a pot with someone and they raised, I imagined the nuts in their hand. Every PLO hand, I imagined the turn gave them the nut flush or the nut straight or a full house. When I didn't have the nuts, I laid my hand down.
It was a combination of the limit (which I had little experience with), good players (the bad ones busted quickly) and the quad 6's that scared the hell out of me. I wish I had gone home after dinner, but I didn't. My live bankroll took a big hit, but now I must use what I learned, and build it back up.
I can play poker. And I can beat the Coushatta. Of that, I am sure.