Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

We'll do it live!

On an almost spontaneous whim, I quickly decided I wanted to play live poker at a real casino and made reservations at a hostel close to the nearest casino (which isn't so near, far enough that it isn't a one day affair) in Malmö, Sweden.

Took the train there, went shopping, and then checked in to the hostel. Exactly what I was looking for. I just need a bed, access to bathroom and shower and a door you can lock. Not a fancy hotel with oak furniture, carpets, trouser press, minibar, conference rooms and starred restaurant.

I get to the casino, have a burger and a beer, and soon get a seat at 20/20 (crowns, about $3). Yes, 20/20, not 10/20. No flop, no drop - meaning that if you just check or limp, there will be a flop and rake, and if you raise, there will be a larger pot and more rake.

I buy in max, 100 Big Blinds. I recognize a regular two seats to my right, I've seen him when the poker room was elsewhere in the casino (and I lost a good-sized pot at Fixed Limit with King-high vs Ace-high flush to him), saw him outside another time when I didn't play poker there, saw him in the poker room at another table when I played with dad. To the immediate left of me was an Englishman (?) who lost two big pots against Regular, reloading inbetween, and finally went all in in the dark with his last 2-300. I have QJo in the Big Blind, no other callers. Should I? Yes, I call. He turns up his cards, Ace-rag. And hey-o, a Jack on the flop. Dominating, but the turn causes me to mutter "hmmph, gutshot". And he gets the four-outer 4 for a wheel (Ace-to-Five straight) on the river.

Later, there are new players. I'm wedged in between three Danish semi-pros. I'm nearing the felt and reload with another 1000. That was necessary, to have ammo, and I fight my way up somewhat.

Hand of the night: I get KK, ye ole cowboys, of which one is a Spade. Bet hard, a Dane calls. Three Spades on the flop, one is an Ace, more betting. Bingo! Turn is the Queen of Spades, giving me the nut flush, there could be a straight now, a worse flush, he could try to represent a straight flush or even Royal Straight Flush but I'm blocking that with my King of Spades. I don't remember if the river paired (possible full house) but I don't think so, and the Dane is squirming, he has something halfway decent. I have about 1000 left and bet half of it, 500. If he calls, I have him and get a good pot. If he raises, I have him and get a better pot. I don't think he will fold, because he's got so much in the pot already and I think that he thinks that I think I can maybe buy the pot. Texas Hold'em and poker at its finest.

And I get confirmation that I've got him, he says "If you have the King, well played, otherwise not" and reluctantly calls. I flip my cards over and he mucks. He must've had a straight or Ten of Spades for a (non-nut) flus and straight flush draw.

After about five or six hours of play, I cash out about 50 Big Blinds down. Better luck tomorrow, you can easily double up with one good hand and also milk shortstacks.

Oh, I got a membership card, giving you free entry for a year at all the four state-run casinos in Sweden. They aren't allowed to give comps, meaning no free drinks, no bonuses, no enticements. They got into some trouble when they opened and they tried to act like a Real Vegas Casino giving out free alcoholic drinks and giving some high rollers free or discounted hotel rooms. As a welcome gift I got a pen and a 20-crown marker (you also get those if you get a dinner package) which you can use at any table game. However, you can only bet it on numbers at the roulette, not black/red, odd/even, so they will almost certainly get it back.

I never had reason to flash my WSOP T-shirt (Main Event started that day).

Straddle is allowed, but isn't live. Just as I had read on a Swedish poker forum, the poker room was populated with regulars, tight nits, "tourists" trying out something other than online poker for the first time with a minimum or half buy-in and the worst of all: The trashtalking hollaballa online pro, getting all Hollywood and getting seconds from getting Time called, folding their 78 on a AKJ flop saying "I put you on Tens or Jack Ten". After playing five hands: "Geez, you're tight at this table". And the pièce de résistance: Actually saying "LOL".

Day 2:

In total, I played for six hours. I cashed in for the max amount and took good care of my stack and took a break about once an hour, during which the button orbited approximately three times, meaning 30 hands/hour. Some times I was up about a 1000 and some change and thus break-even for the visit.

I'm not here for a Great Big Win, I'm "happy" breaking even, having had a mini-vacation with shopping, good eating and drinking and a lot of poker.

What caused me to go home was: 37 in an unraised small blind. Remember that it's 20/20, small and big blind are the same? Lo and behold, the flop is the perfect 456. Flopped a good straight! Pocket 78 could be better but after some moderate betting the turn comes 8. Don't think there's a 79 out there.

Hmm, the river pairs with a 6, the pot is about 1000. I beat most hands; all slowplayed big pocket pairs, flush draws (rainbow board), rag draws. What the heck, all in first to act. Last to act is Tanned Older Guy, who earlier got four of a kind in deuces with A2o. I saw him buy in with a Big Red Square 10.000 chip (what are they called?). 2000 is the max buyin at 20/20, so you pocket the 8000 and can refill up to 2000 if you're down.

Aw heck! Dang! Fork! Of course he was happy flopping two pair with 56 and riverring a full house. Why couldn't he have had a 7 for split, 23 for sucker straight or a big pair?

I shake his hand, no hard feelings, and leave, making a joke that doesn't translate well but is in the style of "well, I'll go home and continue folding, but sheets this time".

Online play, the days after that, things I've seen playing online.

At 1/2 tables, max buyin 400. One player with 1248 on one table and 160 at another. Variance!

Calling an all in with AA in a Speed tournament (3 minute blinds), he went all in with 99 and of course flops a 9.

AK, flop KKx, pot-sized bets on flop and river and he won't fold. river J and of course he has JJ.

AA. Flop AAx and several players in. Checked all around. Minimum bet on the turn, no callers. WTF?

Fold 78s against bet 5*BB, flop 569 rainbow. Fun.

Online and live poker is rigged...