After a beer and some chat I suggest we all go play some cards. Nobody objects. I stop in to the restroom and return to the poker floor to see Ftrain, Bill and Glyphic all sitting down at the same table - which happens to be the exact same table to which I'd previously donated a buy-in. I get a kick out of the notion of making the table 40% blogger (at least) but there are no more seats open and there are already people on the list, making the odds of me getting a seat at that table essentially nil.
I decide I've had enough of no-limit for the day anyway and want to sit in a game I feel like I can crush. 2/4 limit looks like it would be entertaining enough but the list is two columns long and it isn't moving fast. I went to the other side of the room and signed up for 3/6 Hold'Em and 3/6 Omaha 8; I'm not the greatest O8 player out there but I figure the games have got to be loose enough that if I sit tight and catch a scooping hand I'll come out ahead. But I get called for 3/6 Hold'Em first, and the staff ushers me... into another room entirely. The California games room, so there's a smattering of multipurpose tables and blackjack tables. Probably Super Pan too, for all I know. There's no autoshuffler or anything, which slows down the pace of the game a bit, but it's a friendly table - and, what's more, there's a veritable school of fish sitting down.
A few people shift in and out but here's the general gist of the table:
1s: Fairly Solid Player Who Vaguely Resembles Eric Balfour, If You Know Who That Is
2s: Martingaling Truck Driver Who Keeps Buying In For $20 And Losing
3s: The Love Child Of Tommy Chong And Charles Manson
4s: Increasingly Drunk Car Dealer With Slick Mustache
5s: Young, Aggressive Asian Player Later Replaced By Glyphic
6s: Older, Solid Asian Player
7s: Guy Who Looked Familiar To Me But He Just Moved Here From Chicago, Anyway, He Was Solid
9s: Standup Comic Who'd Just Come Back From Afghanistan And Was Either On Coke Or Off Heroin
The next few hours were the most fun I've ever had playing poker. Sure, the pace was slow and I only finished about 5BB ahead, but I was beating the game and having fun in the meantime. Why, you ask?
A. Almost Everybody At The Table Was Scared Of Me
The first big hand I got involved in, I limped in early position with QJd. The guy in the 1s raised and the table folded (an unusual occurrence) around to the big blind, who called, as did I. The flop came 25T, all diamonds. I checked, the 1s bet, the big blind folded, I called. Turn was a blank; I checked planning to checkraise but the 1s checked behind. The river was a rag and I decided to bet. The 1s thought for a second and raised. I reraised, he rereraised, I asked the dealer if there was a limit on raises heads-up and the dealer said the betting was capped. So I called and turned over my flush. The table gasped; the 1s turned over AK with one diamond (phew!). I guess he thought I'd missed my draw and was trying to steal.
After that everybody was a little nervous about getting into a pot with me. I said a little nervous, of course - that meant I only had three callers on my preflop raises instead of the usual five. But I did manage to steal the blinds with an UTG raise on the only flopless hand for the entire three hours I was at the table.
This led me to reason #2:
B. I Could Get Away With Bluffing
The fellow in the 4s was playing completely random cards, raising for no reason in particular (47o, that's a reraising hand!), and cold-calling with anything. I ended up heads-up with him in a hand where the flop came KK2, with two diamonds. I held ATo with no diamonds; I bet, he raised, I called. Another diamond came on the turn and I check-raised him; he seemed surprised, looked at the board, said "flush" and mucked. I would proceed to do this to the same guy twice more; eventually he decided to call me down, which leads me to:
C. Hammer Time
Since I'd stopped getting a lot of action on my raises, I decided I was ahead of the game enough to advertise a little. When the 4s raised my button, I peeked down and found a lovely 27. Suited, so not a proper Hammer, but I played it like a Hammer anyway.
"Raise it," I said, spinning a few extra chips into the pot, probably with a little too much english on them. I got the 4s heads-up and the flop came 962, rainbow. He bet, I raised, he called. The turn was my savior, another 2. I glanced over at Glyphic, trying to let him in on the joke telepathically while I threw more chips into the pot. The 4s check-called me. I couldn't tell you what the river was because I didn't even look. The 4s sighed, "Go ahead," I put another bet in, he called, I flipped up 27, his head exploded, and the table gasped again.
"That was amazing," the dealer said, "I thought you had ace-king." I gave her an extra chip for the toke; I'm not a big believer in karma but I'll make an exception for the poker tables.
The 4s had spontaneously regenerated his head and said, "you raise with that?" I shrugged and smiled.
D. Winning Pots And Influencing People
The guy in the 2s had a bit of a tell: he was buying in $20 at a time and if he bet anything other than the blind he had a high pocket pair or AK, though he'd sometimes limp with them. Unfortunately for him, high pocket pairs weren't holding up very often since our table was so loose. On one hand, he limped in, the guy to my right in the small blind (who was supertight) completed, and I looked down to find 35o. The flop came A25 rainbow, giving me second pair and a gutshot. The SB checked, I led at the pot, and the 2s raised... sort of. He only had 4 chips left, so it was an all-in $1 raise.
The guy to my right only played good cards; I figured him for a medium ace when he called the $4, since he'd limped from the small blind. "Does that count as a raise?" I asked the dealer, reaching for more chips, but he shook his head. I shrugged and threw in my call. Turn was a 9, the SB checked, and I figured my odds were better if I only had to outdraw one player, so I threw in a bet. He folded. The river was a 4 (d'oh!), making my gutshot - the 2s turned up JJ and looked very sad, disappearing to an ATM and coming back with another crisp $20.
The only bad part of the whole session was getting outkicked when I hit trip queens on the river in a multiway pot. And I almost got the guy in the 6s to lay down his KQ on the turn; he almost mucked his cards. (I know he almost mucked it rather than play on, because he didn't raise with KQ on the river and seemed genuinely surprised to be getting the pot, as he often was.)
The table was incredibly wild, though, and a fun time was had by everyone but Glyphic, who only played one significant pot that I can recall, in which the twitchy guy in the 9s outdrew Glyphic's AK by spiking his kicker on the turn. This was the same guy who'd turned a full house his very first hand, when he posted his dead blind, with 73o. After that he turned to me and said, "seven-three, it's not like I play that kind of crap"; then he proceeded to play every single hand. He once hit three nut flushes in a row, one a backdoor against a made flush. Despite all that he was nearly out of money more than once. I considered cursing the fates for hitting him in the face with the deck but then remembered that I was dragging pots when I didn't even HAVE the flush.
The table finally broke a little after 1AM and I headed for home. I was seventy bucks lighter but a lot more confident. A lot happier. And, possibly, a slightly better poker player, which was the whole point of the exercise.