Sunday, November 21, 2004

No Limit Home Game - Volume III

It’s funny how the texture of a no limit home game changes over the course of an evening. Early on, when everyone has the same relative stack size, certain raises are more effective than they are later on when the stack sizes become more spread. Calling a $2 raise with .25/.50 blinds in the first hour or so requires much better starting hand requirements than it does 6 hours into the game.

This week’s edition of the $30 buy-in NLHE ring game brought 11 players to my table. Yes that’s right – 11. The venue was a friend’s house having a small Thanksgiving open house that started earlier in the afternoon. It would devolve into a poker game at about 8pm when many guests who were there for the food had left and many guests who were there for the poker would arrive. I went home at about 7pm and brought back my table. Have table, will travel.

Otis and G-Rob made their required attendance after having received permission from their respective bosses. They brought a guest, The Mark, who hosts his own game on a very regular basis. Both Otis and G-Rob had played several times at the Mark and it appeared that we would need extra players this week. Oh well, so much for needing more players, but from my perspective, the more the merrier.

Initially we were a bit cramped. Fitting 11 players at a table designed for 10 was a bit tough, but everyone accommodated the close quarters quite well. I knew I’d be in for a rough hall when I won the first hand with a weak Ace that came on the turn. I never do well when I win the first hand of the evening.

I made a semi-Hellmuthian laydown not long thereafter. In late position, I’m dealt the Hilton sisters. I raise the BB to $3. Josh, a pretty aggressive player sitting to my left, raises me from $3 to $15. Huh??? The BB calls?!?!?! I’m sensing K’s or A’s from someone so after thinking for a bit, I muck Q’s pre-flop. After all is said and done, Josh shows his Q’s and the caller shows J’s. Although I mucked a hand that would have tied, I’m OK with the laydown. I’ve just seen too many betting patterns like that which are indicative of the higher pocket pair. Damn Hiltons!

Little did I realize that I’d be seeing Nicky and Paris quite a bit. I’m dealt those skanky whores once again and raise pre-flop to $3. My man Otis and The Mark call the bet and I’m greeted with what I think is a lovely AQ9 flop. I’m first to act and bet $6. Otis promptly raises to $12 and The Mark calls. What the hell is going on here, I’m thinking to myself. I’m not buying Otis having A’s so I re-raise all-in which puts Otis in the tank. Since at that point in time he was receiving proper pot odds, he calls with his K,J diamonds matching the 2 that hit the flop. The Mark follows suit and calls as well. Wouldn’t you know that a 5 of diamonds hits the turn. The river brings no help and Otis wins the largest pot of the evening and becomes an early big stack. Can you say “rrrrrrreeeebuy???”

I’d rebuy a few times this evening, at one point cashing in my last $13 dollars giving me $29.75 at the table and hoping I could make a run. I get dealt A,2 clubs and see a modest $1 pre-flop raise. The flop is 4,5,9 with the 4 and 5 being clubs. I’m thinking I got a shot at this one. An early bettor bets out $7 and my man Otis goes all-in. All-in???? WTF??? Now it’s my turn to go into the tank. With the off chance that the original bettor calls, I’m kinda sorta receiving pot odds to call with my 12 outs, 9 clubs and 3 3’s for the gutshot wheel straight. Only because it’s Otis, and only because he got me with the exact same situation earlier, I call. The 10 of clubs hits the turn and there is no help on the river for Otis’ flopped two-pair. I shake his hand and we declare a "truce - we’re even - agreement."

As people began to bust out, we whittled down to 8 players as we passed midnight. Playing with The Mark was very interesting. He built one of the biggest stacks my table has ever seen, amassing easily over $350. Greg Raymer’s WSOP stack would be a bit envious. I realized that entering any pot with him could cost me my entire stack which I’d rebuilt back quite nicely to about $100 even after cashing down $100 to various players who wanted to rebuy.

The Mark bluffed me out of a hand once and I returned the favor once. The Mark attacked my TPTK hand with only bottom pair and luckily I stayed the whole way and called. He got that money back by playing the same way with an overpair to my top pair. He was very sly in limping with K’s and letting me catch a J for top pair. His betting pattern was exactly the same as it had been before which made me call him down. Extremely well played on his part.

Then came Hand O’ The Night.

The Mark pre-flop raises to $2.50 and I call with K,8 diamonds. Again, had this been early in the evening with only about $30 in front of me, I’d have folded. Late in the evening (insert Paul Simon joke here) with about $90 in front of me, it’s an easier call. The flop? Hmm, what was that flop again? Oh yeah, A,9,4….of diamonds. I’m hoping to keep my underwear clean at this point so I simply check the flop. The Mark bets $2 and I act reluctant to throw in $2 more. The turn is a Q of clubs and I check again. The Mark bets $1.25, the most unusual bet I’ve seen from him yet. I laugh a bit and say “Only $1.25? OK.” The turn is the J of spades. No board pair, no straight flush possibilities, I have what is unquestionably called “THE STONE COLD NUTS.”

I’m thinking I need to make a bet that’s both call-able and a bet that might make The Mark think I’m trying to buy the pot after the relatively weak betting. I bet out $8 and The Mark pauses. His stacks are so huge and neat, he doesn’t want to make them messy. But he does anyway, and RAISES me to $40. If there was a camera on me at that point in time, I’m not sure what I would have looked like nor what kind of tell I’d have given off. Did someone just raise me $32 when I’m holding the nuts??? I put in $32 more and of course re-raise all-in. After a bit of deliberation and verbally claiming I wouldn’t slow play a flush like that, he calls. Well, it turns out, I did slow play a flush like that and doubled up against the only person who could have doubled me up. All because I called a $2.50 pre-flop raise.

We all packed it in after one more orbit, everyone having a grand ole’ time. After 3 weeks of this stuff, I’m loving it. It is so much more fun to play live NLHE than online. As the holiday schedules get hectic for everyone, I’m still hoping to have the game on alternating Saturdays and keep this thing going into the new year.

I have to, I’ve got a table.

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