Stud Poker Strategy - Atlantic City Poker Scene, Part II
In my last column, I gave you an overview of the poker scene in Atlantic City these days, including a summary of the where there is 7 card stud, and what the stakes are. In the next few articles I'm going to go into a bit more detail about my poker adventure and the state of things in the rooms I visited.
The Borgota, out on the edge of Atlantic City, was my first stop. I arrived at about 8:00 in the morning – hoping to catch the late night crowd still playing. I often visit rooms early Sunday morning hoping to take advantage of their tired play.
Unfortunately, there was no stud going at the time, save for a small $1-5 game with no ante. I wasn't in the mood for the patient grinding that that game demands to show a profit. And, frankly, the stakes are too low to get me interested. I suppose that the last eight or so years of higher stakes has turned me into a snob. Though I respect the guys who grind out an existence in those low stakes games, I just can't become one of them again.
The brush promised that there would be a lively $15/30/45 game starting in a couple of hours. She said that the regular crew for that game often comes in together at around 10:00 AM. I don't doubt her. But I called back later in the day just to confirm that this did in fact happen. Sure enough, there were actually two tables that afternoon – one a "must move" game (this means that they set up a second table that would feed players to the main game as players in the main game left).
I settled for a $2/5 blind no limit game. I bought in for $500 – about the average stack when I sat down. My hopes were realized, as it became immediately clear that nearly everyone at the table had been playing overnight. But there was a problem I hadn't anticipated. Since I had driven down from Boston, starting my trek at 1:30 AM, with painfully little sleep before I left, I too was exhausted. It was deceptive at first, because the many cups of coffee I imbibed on the way down made me awake, but I was clearly exhausted and sleep deprived. So my nerves were shot – or nearly so. And my thinking was impaired without question. Had I been following my own advise I would have stayed away. But I was a tourist, had driven nearly six hours to play, and I would not be denied no matter what my mental and physical state. Too bad.
I had an interesting hand early on: ATo in late position. A loose aggressive player raised to $20 in front of me, after a couple of guys had folded. I had been playing tightly for the first twenty minutes or so and hadn't played a hand. ATo is a hand I normally get away from early. But with a raiser in early position from this loose guy, I figured I might steal the pot with my raise – or at least make it heads up against someone who might well have a much weaker hand than mine. So I raised to $60. Everyone but the initial raiser folded. He called. The flop was three spades, headed by the T. Check to me and I bet $120, hoping to win the hand, but ready to fold if I was reraised. I didn't have a spade. He paused and finally called. Was he acting? I couldn't be sure. Maybe he was slowplaying and hoping to seduce me into betting, Hmm. The one card I didn't want to see came on the Turn – a spade. He went all in. I folded.
Should I have folded pre-flop, been more cautious on the flop and not bet, called on the Turn, or did I play my hand correctly and just get unlucky? It's always hard to be sure but I believe it to be the last option.
A couple of hands later I witnessed a major transfer of money as Tens Full lost to Kings Full when a King hit the River. $2,400 was pushed to the winner.
We paid $5/half for sitting in this game – not a bad time charge considering that we were also earning $2/hour in comps. If I were just coming down for no limit poker this would have been a perfectly fine place to spend the day (though I found out there's a better deal at the Hilton). The chairs were very comfortable, the room is nicely appointed, there's a bathroom near at hand (but not too near), and the staff were accommodating.
As it was, I had places to go and games to play, so I stayed for just another half hour. Only one memorable hand during that time. I was dealt JcTc in the cutoff seat. Six players were in for $15. I called as well. The flop was AcQs8c. It was checked to me. Man, that $90 pot was inviting me to steal it. I had a nice flush draw and an inside straight draw. And no one had bet. Perfect set up for a semi-bluff. So I bet $75. The guy under the gun raised all in. He only had about $200. The player after him went all in for his whole stack of about $300. His bet would have cost me the rest of my stack, which was another $225. I thought about folding. I realized that though I had a draw to the third nut flush, I was probably against a set, meaning I could hit my flush and still loose to a full house. With two guys in I might well be against a higher flush draw too – someone who was also semi-bluffing – but with a bigger semi. I decided to fold.
As it turned out, the guys faced their cards. The first player had the nut flush draw with Kc9c and the second player had AcQs for trip Qs. A blank hit the turn and a club hit the River.
I left shortly thereafter down $290. If I had been more awake and alert I don't know how I would have played differently, but at least I wouldn't have had an excuse for losing.
When I go back to Atlantic City, and I will go back, I'll arrive later on Saturday with the intention of playing in the $15/30/45 game. But I might well end up playing no limit – with what seemed like excellent loose action.
Ed Note: Lots of new players playing at London Poker Club Join the club today.