11.20.2005

Hustlered, Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bad Beat

Murderer's Row taking a week off, hdouble suggested we make a trip out to the Hustler casino, which I'd never been to. It certainly has the nicest bathrooms of any LA-area card barn; I had several opportunities to inspect the facilities because the Hustler also appears to have the dirtiest chips (though the $2 greens at HP are up there). I'm not remotely germophobic but after sliding chips around the table for half an hour I'd get all Howard Hughes and need to spend some quality time with a sink. My 6/12 table was loose but passive early on, with the exception of the mouthy maniac in the nine seat. The first time we mixed it up, I limped with KQs, he raised from the button, three of us called. Flop came Q32, two hearts (I had clubs). I checkraised his flop bet and he started trash-talking me, trying to get a read, but I went stonefaced. "Someone's been watching too much TV," he said, and called. Turn was a K. I bet and he insta-called, getting his chips out for a river-call as well (he liked to cut off bettors by moving for his chips). River blanked and I bet. "Ace-king," he said. "King-queen," I responded, flipping my cards up. Then the dealer started pushing the pot toward him. I was stunned for a moment, then barked out "That's my pot!" a couple of times; it took three other people down at my end of the table waking up to bring the dealer to attention. For the next couple of hours the nine seat wanted to make me his bitch. He wanted to steal my blinds and kept calling me a geek and a nerd. Trouble was he kept screwing up and raising when it was my small blind instead, just giving me a lot of easy folds. The one time I called him, I had KdJd; flop came ATx with one diamond. I checked, he bet, I called because he didn't do the little hand-stutter he usually did when he'd hit a flop. Turn was a jack and I figured I was good, so I check-called the turn and river. "Got an ace?" I asked. "No ace," he said. I flipped up my cards and raked in the pot. He muttered some presumably unpleasant things and I just kept smiling. Hard to get under someone's skin when they're stacking your chips, buddy. He went on to do things like inadvertently saving me a bet when he rivered a three-outer against my two pair in a three-way pot, announcing his hand and flipping up his cards before my action came around. Ah, Hustler Casino, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways: 1. I flopped two sets during the night. Both lost, one to a new maniac's flopped straight (capped flop, I check-called turn and river), and one in this lovely fashion: The new table maniac raised (which he would do with Q3o), five callers, I look down in and find QQ in my small blind. I like my hand but I'll be out of position and any overcard will kill me so I just call, hoping I can narrow down the field with a flop or turn raise. Flop comes KQ8 with two hearts. The new maniac bets out, and the solid player to his left raises, so when it gets to me I threebet. The maniac caps. Four players see the turn, which is an offsuit ace and makes me swear because this is the kind of game where people loves them some jack-ten. The maniac checks (?!) and it's checked around to me; I figure nobody is folding and I still might have the best hand, so I bet. The maniac checkraises; the solid player calls two cold and I can NOT figure out what is going on. I'm less scared of the maniac than of the solid player because he strikes me as solid enough to go for an overcall. I'm sitting there in the tank and the maniac starts needling me about needing a heart. He thinks I'm on a draw! I think maybe he has AK and thinks he is good, and the pot is way too big to fold anyway - I have many outs to a boat even though I don't know if all of them are live. River is an offsuit jack. Great. T3o has me crushed. The maniac leads, which just confuses me even more. I'm convinced he didn't hit a straight on the turn. The solid player calls. I think I am a lunatic to be considering the overcall here but I know I'm either alive or dead so at least I'm not paying for a chop. I sigh and throw in the chips for a crying call. Nobody has a straight. The solid player has AhQh, for second pair and the nut flush draw on the flop, two pair on the turn. The maniac has the other two aces for the turned one-outer. I have a sudden desire to drag him off into a corner to interrogate him, because if I could discover the source of his luck and bottle it I wouldn't need to play poker. He caught a few runner-runner straights with trash and was the subject of much mockery from players who under normal circumstances wouldn't have grounds to mock much of anything. 2. I had two draws come in the whole night. One was a straight and I got paid off for a few bets heads-up. The other came in after a flop of T92, one diamond (I had KdJd and had limped along with everyone on the button). On the flop it was checked to me and I figured my image was good enough to be betting with a gutshot and overcards. Three callers, which wasn't encouraging. Turn was 6d; now I've got the second-nut flush draw and many more presumptive outs. Checked to me and I bet; one caller, then the guy on my right checkraises. I am annoyed but cannot lay it down. River is Qd. Guy on my right bets, I raise, the guy who's been calling all along threebets, the guy on my right calls all-in, I have little choice but to pay off one bet with the second nut flush. He shows Ad4d. Guy on my right swears and shows 66 for the turned set. I get caught up in the spirit and flip my cards over. The general consensus at the table is that nut flush guy doesn't really deserve the pot, which irks him enough that he posts his blinds and then leaves when it's his button. Apparently I have gone from zero to hero in the eyes of my tablemates. 3. Aberrations in card frequency: I had a deuce in my hand more times than not. This did allow me to play the Hammer in a very crafty and advanced fashion. Instead of raising from the button I just limped along with a few tight-passive players. Flop came JJ9 with two diamonds. I bet the flop and got two callers. Turn was a third diamond, I bet, everyone dropped, I showed my cards and said "Come on, people." The guy on my right observed that I had a flush draw with 2d. Yes, sir, I was betting my weakest-possible-runner-runner flush draw. I called it the Hammer but nobody seemed to know what the fuck I was talking about. Well, now they know. 4. Despite relatively lousy cards and my knack for losing largeass pots, I still left up 20BB for the night because people would happily pay off second-pair value bets. Combined with an upturn in my online fortunes, this has made me much more relaxed about the bankroll-bruising I'll undoubtedly be taking due to the WPBT madness, what with castle-stormings and way too many opportunities to shout "live six!" At least I'm bracing myself for the blow. I've always heard that that's what makes it hurt more, but I'll take wide-eyed preparedness any day. Here's to junk-kicking in all its glorious variations!

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