“You don’t have a gambling problem, do you?”
This is a question asked of myself from my mother about 6 weeks ago. A little backstory is likely required…
I started hosting a weekly poker game among a group of 5-8 friends about 4 months ago. We played $0.50/$1.00 Limit Hold’em for a few weeks along with a couple of No Limit tournament-style games for $5.00. Everyone would buy in for $20.00 and we had a night’s worth of entertainment. By popular demand, the limits were raised to $1.00/$2.00, meaning $40.00 buy-ins. No one got hurt. I had two, count ’em, TWO losing nights since I started hosting the game. Overall, I am up about $175.00 in my home game.
Well, one night we had a boatload of people show up to my place for some poker action. 11 guys to be exact, one more than the regulation amount at a table. Therefore, one guy had to sit for 40 minutes until a spot opened up. Harris, a buddy of mine and one of the regulars at the game, decided this was worthy of discussion at his weekly family dinner. His old man, the joker that he is, ran into my old man at the golf club and started pulling his leg, saying I was a gambling junkie, I was losing my shirt on a daily basis at the casino, etc, etc. So I have to actually defend myself from these lies after getting the phone call from a worried set of parents who think their son is in serious financial trouble. I play poker once a week, for goodness sake! I can’t tell you how pissed I was after that phone call and boy, did Harris ever feel embarrassed when told about his father’s shenanigans.
By the way, it’s worth noting that I’m 32 years old.
Now to present day. I haven’t hosted my weekly game in over three weeks, mostly due to how much trouble it is organizing everything and then finding that certain people don’t show up for the game. A few of the guys hate playing shorthanded (ie: 5 people) and I try to be as accommodating as possible. There are a couple of flakes in the group that can’t be counted on to show when they say they’ll show and since I don’t want to upset anyone, I just have cancelled the games for the last little while. However, the poker itch has been scratched elsewhere…
Elsewhere is Casino Niagara and their brand new poker room. 12 Tables. Lower limits starting at $2.00/$4.00 and ranging up through $6.00/$12.00. They usually have a couple $1.00/$2.00 No-Limit games going as well. I cannot express to you how poor the play is at this casino and how easy it is to win money with a tight philosophy at the tables. As the cliche goes, it’s like taking candy from a baby.
I made a trip down to the casino last night to meet up with my golf and poker buddy Toast (click here to read about his adventures). He had already amassed a huge stack of chips at the $3.00/$6.00 table by the time I arrived and I eventually ended up getting escorted to a seat directly to his left on the same table. Now I consider Toast to be a super-tight/aggressive player while I would probably be tagged as slightly looser but equally as aggressive. If I’m in position, I’ll throw in a raise on a mid-level suited connector (ie: 89s) just to keep people off balance. I also have an affinity for gapped suited connectors, with 79s being a personal favourite.
Anyway, through 45 minutes at this table I see only three flops and one river where I won a $40.00 pot at showdown. So I’m slightly ahead after losing a bunch of my blinds to raises when I get dealt KQo on the button in what ends up as the hand of the night. Four callers to me (Toast folds to my right) and I raise it to $6.00. Both blinds cold call and the original callers throw in the extra bet as well. Flop comes down KQ10 rainbow giving me top two pair. BB bets out, 2 callers to me, I raise, BB calls and other two follow suit. Turn shows my money card, another Q, giving me queens over kings. BB bets into me, 1 more call, I raise, BB calls while the other guy goes away. River card is a blank. BB bets, I raise, BB re-raises. Now I’m slightly concerned about him having pocket kings but the guy didn’t raise pre-flop so I quickly dismiss that thought. We end up raising each other until he puts the last of his chips in (about $24.00 on the river) and I call him down. BB turns over Q10 for a lower boat than mine and I rake in a monster. I felt bad for the guy because he actually had GOOD CARDS.
This wasn’t the case the rest of the night. People at this table bet third and fourth ranked pairs like they’re the absolute nuts! I can’t tell you how many times I winced at the plays being made at this table.
I ended up profiting $212.00 in two and a half hours of game time. My buddy Toast outdid me, cashing in for $226.00 more than he came with. Keep in mind that this is a $3.00/$6.00 table.
This will be the exception, rather than the norm and I know that. I didn’t get sucked out on even once so I truly had one of those lucky nights at the table. However, I never got myself into a situation where I was putting money into a pot with crappy cards, a theory that doesn’t seem to register with most of the players in this game.
I hope they don’t catch on too quick. I look forward to going back soon.