Monday, May 07, 2007


It was past the witching hour when I walked in. Fallsview and Rama have nothing on River Rock when it comes to poker room size. There were plenty of seats open, and I grabbed one just before they broke one of the other tables. This was my first mistake.

Sitting UTG with a hand in play, I sized-up my opponents. The SB, in his early twenties, had arranged his chips in an interleaved pattern, each pseudo-circular tier containing 5 chips, with a pillar of 15-20 chips on top. This told me he was weak-tight, but willing to see a flop with a pretty wide range of starting cards. Obviously, he had caught a hand or two this night. I think he believed his last name was Negreanu, but instead of being able to read opponents, he simply folded to scare cards.

BB was easy to read after just one hand. He was throwing chips at the pot in an effort to scare away the table with inferior hands. Somehow he believed that the pathetic way he was putting chips on the felt would scare off the more seasoned players around him. TP was gold against this donk.

Next was me. I know how I play.

To my left sat a good stack of chips with no player. Their owner would soon return and reveal himself to be a loose-aggressive player who liked to talk. The LAG aspect was obvious as soon he opened his mouth and straddled my BB.

Next was an empty seat, soon filled by a mid-twenties Esfandiari look-alike. One hand was enough to put "ABC" across his chest. Raise pre-flop and bet at the small board? Jacks.

Next to the less-than-magical Antonio was the biggest stack at the table. Originally orphaned, the man behind 4x the max buy-ins returned with the player to my left. They could have been carbon-copies of each other when it came to play. He'd just had a slightly better night than his friend.

Next came the rock, the dealer, and the hard place. The two players on either side of the man with the cards were quiet, folding regularly, and screamed "dangerous". If they spoke and had cards in front of them, I knew I'd be folding.

Then came my favourite, who I shall dub Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel. Not that he looked like a Cletus, but his lower jaw must have weighed a good 30lbs, since he seemed incapable of pulling it up. A baseball cap and gaze that said "Where did I put those brain cells?" painted him as the grouper at this table. He was the typical case of someone who believed aggression made up for a lack of skill. Much like the BB though, he carried none of the conviction required to make believers out of anyone. The fact that his eyes weren't bloodshot and there were no Cheetos to be found actually surprised me.

Finally, on the button was a mirror. Here sat a guy who I pegged immediately as mimicking my style. As the game progressed, I realized he had a wider starting range than I, but otherwise was a known entity. In fact, as I watched the play, my starting range came more in-line with his.

This gave me a lay of the land. 2 LAGs, 2 rocks, 1 ABC player, 2 donkeys, 1 weak-tight superstar, me, and my mirror. Great. 5 players I could take down, 2 I wanted to avoid, and 2 who had the chips and aggression to push me out of the way. I'd have to catch cards and pick my spots, which wouldn't be easy with the LAGs to my left.

The two donkeys busted before I could take their money, but were fortunately replaced by their doppelgangers. One brought his mildly attractive girlfriend, who was more of a distraction to him than the rest of us. The other brought a friend who seemed to be little more than a paperweight.

I was dealt my first hand. It set the trend for the next two hours -- garbage. Now this is a table one can excel at if they catch some cards. In fact, with a table like this, I'd love mediocre and drawing starting hands that can catch on the flop or turn. With at least 2-3 callers pre-flop virtually guaranteed, premium hands aren't worth nearly as much as at a tighter table. By the end of the first hour, I wouldn't have cried about seeing aces or kings in front of me.

My best starting hand was... pocket threes. This was my final hand as well, as I was short-stacked and ran into fishhooks in the hands of one of the LAGs. The only other hand I held that netted me anything? An ATo (the 3rd of the night, and my SECOND best hand after the 3s) that split with an AJ on a board of A73Q3. In fact, only a Q8o that I threw away pre-flop caught anything of significance when the flop came TJ9. Even then, if I was still in the hand I would have tripled up to only 75% of my starting stack.

So, no solid starting hands, no catches on the drawing hands, and aggressiveness constantly in position on me led to my walking away 2 hours later a couple hundred lighter. I don't think my play was terrible, although I was undoubtedly coming off as weak-tight. What upsets me is that I was at a table I should have made a mint off of and couldn't get anything going. There was no respect for table image, no fold equity, and limited skill sitting there and I couldn't catch to save my life. It was a table made not for aggression and bluffs, but for playing your big hands like big hands and getting paid off. It was made for trapping the guys who thought they knew how to play and teaching them a lesson. Unfortunately, this required a bit of luck that had long since abandoned me.

Yes, I said luck. The Q8o was the ONLY hand I regretted folding all night. Someone would catch middle pair and fire repeatedly at the board, which is fine, except that the caller would inevitably have the nuts, or the 2nd or 3rd. The chipstacks would call down and catch the one card they needed. Since I wasn't hitting anything anyway, this would have been disasterous. Maybe 1 in 5 hands didn't see a showdown, and those were between the LAGs and the Rocks, usually because the LAG would throw a (significant) pot-sized bet at the turn or river. I'd spent the first hour building a tight image, and my raises would get no respect, my re-raises got only marginally more. It wasn't worth the bluff.

But I've determined The River Rock hates me. I was there twice this trip, once meeting up with Fuel and Schaubs and the next day when I missed a flight and stayed overnight. The slots were against me (speaking of which, the slots selection there is pathetic), the craps tables were ice cold, and the poker dealers obviously felt the need to beat me into the ground. I don't know what I did to them... was it because I said he salmon was overdone and dry? Because it was, which is a crime against humanity in BC.

It really gets me looking towards Vegas even more strongly. They've got it figured out there. Let us schlubs feel like we're winning, even as we're giving it all back to your restaurants and bars. At the very least, we feel like there is value in the entertainment our denarii bought.


Fuel55 said...

laughing out loud ...

Astin said...

You call ahead or something? Let 'em know I was coming? :)