How I learned to stop worrying and love Party Poker

Well friends, yours truly got crushed at Hollywood Park again. A brutal loss of $350 in 3.5 hours on the $6.12 tables. That’s 8.3 big bets an hour! Just painful. And I didn’t even play badly. On the drive home I vowed to stick to online poker. After last night’s beating, my records show that I am down -$1,150 at Hollywood Park, and up $2,700 at Party Poker. Yet I keep going back to that hellhole. The place has some evil power over me… the horrible players, and the opportunity to get out from behind the computer monitor is what draws me. But it’s too much to give up– I can play nearly 4 times as many hands online, and it’s less of a gamble, since there are usually 5 or 6 players seeing the flop at HP. Last night was the last straw– I’m not going back to that place until I have the bankroll to sit in the top section games.

So here’s how it went down:
Driving through LA traffic after work yesterday, I looked forward to getting back to the green felt, the feel of the chips, and the dirty looks after check raising an unsuspecting fish. It had been 3 weeks since I’d been there, due to travel and the visit from the wife’s family. After a winning session on Party the night before, I was ready to roll… ready to hit my big rush, to finally take 5 racks off the table after the deck hit me in the head like it never has before. I got a seat immediately, and I recognized a few of the players at the table as decent, but saw none of the solid players that I try to avoid. To my surprise, cards flew into the muck at a rapid pace, and the table was extremely tight for a Friday night… usually the drunks and weekend warriors can’t get their chips in the pot fast enough.

Anyway, after trying to get a bead on the table, I pick up 99 in late position and everyone folds to me. I raise, and the button calls, and the blinds fold. Beautiful… the caller is a solid player, so I put him on big cards. He had just finished telling me he had spent a few months in Vegas playing 12 hours a day at the Horsehoe, and staying at budget suites for $200 a week. It sounded like a nice life to me, but he told me it was so incredibly boring that he couldn’t do it again. 12 hours a day at the Horseshoe does sound like quite a grind, and the boredom comment served as a good warning to any of my hopes of ever playing professionally. Anyway back to the hand– the flop came 2 2 7, and I was feeling good about my hand. I bet out, and the semipro called, which surprised me a little bit. Immediately I put him on a big Ace, AQ or AK, and resolved to keep betting until one of those big cards showed up. The turn was a Ten, and again I bet and he called. When the Ace hit on the river, I sadly checked, he bet, and I called. I wasn’t too happy that I was right– he turned over big slick and raked in the $92 pot. I know it’s a coin flip against AK, but if the Ace or King had just come on the flop, it would have saved me at least $24 bucks. Not a good start.

My luck continued when I raised with AQ suited and only the big blind called, making it heads up. The flop came A A 8, and I bet out, bb calls, nd I put him on a smaller ace. I didn’t have a good read on this guy, but he seemed pretty loose, and I felt pretty sure I had him outkicked. The turn came an 8– bet, call again. River is a rag, and I bet and he raises me. My stomach sinks, and I now realize his kicker is an 8, but I make the crying call anyway. Aces over 8s it is, and he rakes the $116 pot. Nice catch in the big blind.

So after these two hands I’ve thrown away $104, and I’m not real excited about that. Not terrible beats, but the cards were definitely not falling for me. I pick up a medium size pot from the small blind when my flush hits, and now I’m ready to roll… I pick up Q9s in the big blind, and call an early raise, since there are 2 other callers before me. The flop is 10 8 5 and I have to figure out if I want to draw to the gutshot. I check, early raiser bets out, and one other player calls, a limper mucks, and there is one call ahead of me. So 5 big bets in the pot, I decide to gamble on my 5 to 1 gutshot, since I think that early raiser will bet out if the Jack comes. The beautiful Jack of spades hits on the turn, and I’m licking my chops. Everything according to plan– bet, call, and I check-raise, licking my chops and wondering the last time I ever hit a gutshot. Early raiser says “I thought you might do that”, and calls the raise, but the other player folds. The river comes a 5, putting a flush on the board, and the possible full house. I fear both (this early raiser is very loose), but bet out in frustration. Of course I am raised, I make the crying call and he turns over pocket 10s for the full house. Ouch. I sadly watch him rake the $174 pot and realize that in 3 unlucky hands, I’ve lost $170 of my money, and should (probabilistically speaking) be up around $250. Poker gods, have you forsaken me? To rub salt in the wound, the full house clown says “Hey, I was 50-50 to hit the full house.” I say, “Not quite.” He gets angry and says “I was 50-50!” I say, “Not quite, you had 11 outs, and there were 44 cards left.” He gives me a “whatever” and I feel like vomiting on the floor.

I quickly down a jack daniels on the rocks, hoping that somehow the alcohol will change my luck. I glance at pocket rockets in late position, and think about ordering another. A loose, horrible player limps in from middle position, I raise and the guy who hit the full house calls from the BB. The flop is K J 6, and I’m watching out for K J, but feel pretty happy about the flop. They both check to me, and I raise, and both call. The turn is a 7, and I figure I’m in good shape. One of these clowns may have K7 or J7, but I’m don’t play scared. Loose horrible calls, and I am clueless now. I want to raise, but I’m sure both of them will call, and I may be losing at this point. So I just call, and the river is a 4. This time full house guy checks (missed a draw?) and loose horrible checks. I’m baffled at this point, and don’t want to risk getting check raise, so I show my rockets. Full house guy says something about me being lucky and a good draw, and he turns over K Q. Amazingly, loose horrible turns over… 7 4 OFFSUIT!!! I look at full house guy and laugh and he smirks and says “Well, you can’t beat 7 4 offsuit.” $84 pot.

I can’t go on recounting this, it is just too painful. There were several more bad beats, and although I wasn’t on tilt, I definitely wasn’t playing my A game. But I will tell you that the night ended the way it started. Down to my last six chips, I pick up 99 in late position, and raise all in. The big blind calls, and flop is A 2 2. I figure he’s got the ace, and I get out of my chair, and the turn comes 7, river 8. BB turns over Q2! and I hear the poker gods chuckling in the background.

So, that’s it. No more gambling with players that can’t be read. The “any two cards can win” is beating me up, and I know in the long run I should come out ahead, but I just can’t take losing to people who don’t even know what outs are. I’ll stick to online play where the long run is much easier to reach, and although the players are better, the bad beats come less often. The swings of no-fold-em poker are not for me, so I am cutting way back on my live play until I can get in the bigger games. The rake at HP is also ridiculous, so I need to give up on the horrible players and just play my A game online against tougher opponents.

Possible leak in brick and mortar game: I played a lot of middle aces, because it is a jackpot game, and people will play any ace. This is dangerous because if you’re against two other aces, and the ace flops, one of them has a decent chance of hitting their kicker. I never play these hands online, but I don’t think it is a horrible play in a play-any-ace jackpot game. But I did lose a lot of money on these hands…

PartyPoker here I come…

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