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vegas jan 2011 trip report part 3: nit-mice on parade

2011-01-16 - 12:31 p.m.

Jan. 14, 2011, Friday -- Nit Hell

Small ball, small ball, all day long. A bigger collection of nits, mice, and short-stackers have never been assembled all in one place. I ground out a nice, neat, safe little win without ever getting involved in any big pots. If there were any big pots, it was always something like pocket Tens versus Jacks versus Kings -- an actual pot that I witnessed.

I'm keeping track of how many sets I actually get, because I always feel that I don't get my share. My third set of the trip came today, when I turned a set of nines on a 3 diamond board. I let him take the lead on the flop and, when he took a stab, I floated because I held the 9 ♦ in my hand. When the 9 ♣ fell on the turn, I checked again, to allow him to bluff a second time. Then I check/raised to bring the hand to a close, because I wasn't particularly anxious to see a fourth diamond fall on the river. He open-folded a pair of sixes, muttering bitterly, "Nice hand."

I wasn't up against much of a mental challenge, so today's hand of the day is a simple, typical steal.

Hand #1: Winning With Five High in a 6 Player pot

2/5 NL. My stack was somewhere around $475, pretty meh for that table. I pick up 5 ♦ 4 ♦ in the big blind. Under-the-Gun opens for $15, a standard raise from him. Four callers, I call. 6 players. $90 pot.

Flop: Q ♦ Q ♣ 2 ♦

Most paired boards get checked around, although the button might take a stab. If he does, I have a plan. I can also take advantage of my relative position to see what everyone else does before it gets back to me. If there's a lot of action, I'll hold my fire and pick a better spot for petty larceny.

Also, note I've picked up a small flush draw, and I'm unlikely to be up against a full house. Someone may be holding pocket deuces, but other than that, I'm not terribly concerned. If someone does call the flop, I may pick up equity on the turn and be able to fire again -- most especially if another diamond falls.

So I check with a plan to check/raise if conditions look right. Four more checks. Button bets $40 -- less than half-pot. C'mon, dude. That's just an insult. A direct challenge to my manhood. Now I have to try to steal. I'm not letting a $90 pot go unchallenged to a guy who didn't raise his button before the flop. I mean, what's he got? A deuce???

I make it $135 to go. The four in-between us fold. He hesitates and then he too folds.

Poker comps aren't lavish, and we've been eating every other day in the Food Court instead of Noodle Asia. Today was a Food Court day, so we split a Matzo Ball Soup and a Lox platter, just as we did on Wednesday.

Jan. 15, 2011, Saturday -- Nit Heck

A good-sized win for me today at 2/5 NL. Actually, considering that I was playing small ball and not getting involved in big pots, my 1K win was huge. More nits, mice, and shorties. I don't know why I can't pick up AK hand over hand when I'm at a table with a calling station. On my first table, which was mostly a bunch of hopeless weak-tights, AK was worth exactly as much as T7 -- if they never go to showdown, you can hold any two cards. I must have picked up the hand 10 or 12 times in a 4 hour session. So they wouldn't think I was robbing them blind, I kept flipping over my AK to show them, wow, look, it hit again! I did get caught running one big play on a fairly safe-looking board, but apparently they just thought it was my one big stupid bluff of the day, because they didn't start calling me any more often.

My turn to use my comps for dinner at Noodle Asia -- Crab Rangoon, Spring Rolls, Szechwan Spicy Beef Soup.

My second table wasn't much different from the first. There was one loose, terrible calling station, but I didn't get much of his money, because I didn't pick up much while he was at the table. Mostly I just built pots and stole 'em on the flop. Some guy comes to the table, and now he has a plan to donk into me on the flop to re-steal. The first time he did it on an Ace high board. Considering I put in a good-sized raise here before the flop, I don't know why he wouldn't give me credit for an Ace. If he holds a real hand, why not check/raise? But all I've got is Jacks, and it's possible he himself has an Ace and is worried that I'll check behind on this flop, so I let it go. But it happens again, and the board is pretty dry. Hmmm. I am not about to tolerate this kid donking my flops all night. So here's what I do about it:

Hand #2: Get Back in Line, Donkey

My stack is around $500, and the target has me covered. He limps, action folds to me, and I make it $25 to go with Q ♥ T ♣ on the button. The blinds call, and he calls. $100 pot, 4 players.

Flop: 5 ♦ 6 ♥ K ♠

It isn't an extremely dry board, but it's good enough for my purposes. Blinds check, he bets $60, and now I make it $160 to go -- a pure bald-faced bluff. The blinds fold, and he folds. "Go me," I say as I flip over my hand and rake the pot.

"Bluffing?" squeaks the drunk woman who was in the small blind.

"He knows why," I say. "He stole one from me, and I had to get it back. Hell, he mighta stole two from me, so he might still owe me one."

Target gets real, real quiet. It works like a freaking voodoo spell. The guy is now officially frozen, as in, completely encased in an itty bitty ice cube. Now he checks every flop and frequently checks down all the way to the river. He doesn't know what to do. Gosh. Was it the only tool in his kit or what? He dribbles off half his buy-in, walks around, and finally racks up and leaves. Hey, don't go away mad, just go away.

The whole table hates me now. They're all furiously playing back hands in their head and realizing that I've been stealing for 3 hours, coincidentally the amount of time that I've been at the table. Because I've been catching zip, I should be losing, but the steals have kept me about even with my $500 buy-in. Guy on my immediate left is a very cautious sort of straightforward player who has demonstrated no creativity at all. Next is the bitchy drunk lady who probably thinks she's a TAG. He has me covered, and she's short. Neither of them really know what to do if they suspect a player of stealing.

Example: I make a cut-off steal-raise with A ♥ 6 ♣ and instead of folding as he does much too often, the cautious dude smooth-calls on the button. I'm instantly suspicious, since he actually folds way too much here. Blinds fold, and there's a $45 pot, heads-up. The flop is something like AK4 rainbow, and I check. He makes a timid $15 bet. Pitiful. Just pitiful. That's just crying out to be check/raised, but I don't need to get into a pissing match with my mighty pair of Aces, no kicker, so I just call. $75 pot. Turn doesn't matter. I check. Because he's timid and straightforward, I don't have to call much of a bet here. If he makes a meaningful bet, he has me out-kicked, and I don't need to hang around to catch my three-outer. However, he makes it $25. Oh, c'mon, dude, that's just insulting. I call again, and the river brings the 6 ♠ to give me the pot. He held AQ or AJ -- doesn't matter, as he flashed the cards too fast for me to tell -- but the point is that he could have won this pot at any time before the river if he'd only had the stones. Hell, he could have taken it before the flop with a simple three-bet; trouble is, this guy never three-bets with less than QQ. So he got himself into trouble.

My fourth set of the trip came when someone limped in on the button, I look down in the small blind to see T ♦ T ♥ and I decide to simply complete. I could end the hand right here by raising from the small blind, but this time I decide to see a flop. It's a beauty -- A♣ T ♣ 9 ♠. I have flopped a set, but I have no reason to think anyone has anything. 3 players to the flop, $15. Sigh. As the dealer breaks one of the red chips to take the rake, I lead out for $10, the red chips that are in the pot. The dude to my left is eating, so the small blind this time is the bitchy lady. That's unfortunate because she's short-stacked, but it is what it is. She min-raises to $20. The button folds. It's $10 more back to me, and I'm just shaking my head because that's a terrible min-raise on every level. Either she holds an Ace and doesn't want to frighten me away, or she holds the club draw. Well, I want to defend against the club draw and get paid by the Ace, so there's some more betting, and eventually it gets to showdown and she holds A ♥ 9 ♣ for a flopped top and bottom. When she pushed in her last two bills, she had a little smirk of triumph, especially when I called. She about falls out of her chair when I show down the set of tens.

I've now played 40 hours of 2/5 NL on this trip, and I've seen 4 sets. That's 1 set every 10 hours. Doesn't seem like a lot. However, all four of them held up, so yay, me.

But, to summarize, on my final table, I went from even to victory in one short hour while everyone was trying to figure out how to reel me in. Then this baby shark disguised as a harmless guppy went swimming away for the night...

Despite no nightcap or any alcohol even with dinner since I landed in Vegas, I'm still having some really wild dreams. Something about a game show, something about living in a house built under a dam.

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