I’m not sure how many different B&Bs it took before I started to become bothered by the widely adopted "leave your key at reception when you go out" system. They always tie the key to a larger than usual key fob to stop you running off with it and yesterday’s blue plastic tag was eight inches long, not much less subtle than a breeze block. When I returned, it was a different receptionist to the one who checked me in, so I was hoping she’d want me to say a little more than just "room one" to let me back in. But no.
This was Thursday night, and I’d been to Gutshot for the tournament but stayed for the live action after busting out very early. I played the hand that crippled me dreadfully, check-calling on the river for most of my stack with just an eight-high flush on a paired board. I was out of position and any hand I could beat would have been silly to not check behind. After much palaver over whether one player should deal for everyone – in theory to keep things moving more quickly – but then finding that he was not really that great (beginning with a misdeal on the first hand, and not really improving) we’d reverted back to self-deal just in time for me to bust myself with 22 against AT for what few chips I had left.
So by 8.45pm I was in the £25/50 game. Played for nearly 3 hours, came away with £99 profit. Yes, triple digits would have been a nice achievement but I wasn’t going to chase it, especially as I wanted to catch the last tube. I started off buying in for £60 because I didn’t have any tenners, and that’s OK apparently when one of the regulars already bent the rules, topping up a few minutes earlier to £100 because "there’s a lot of money on the table".
I got lucky with QQ early on, turning a set and doubling up, funding some of my future donkishness. I still have too much of a limit hold’em thinking, but at least I’m recognising that, even if I’m not doing enough about it when it matters. For example, calling a river bet after the turn was checked through, holding just AJ on a board A7472 with three hearts. Just because it wasn’t a pot-sized bet doesn’t make it worth the call, like it does in the fabulous $2/$4 games in Vegas.
There’s only really one winning hand worth relating. It earned me two players’ stacks, as well as plenty of abuse from Goscars "Best Moody" winner Feroz, who had delighted us all with a bad beat story before even sitting down. I was happy to give him another. "What a fish. I hate bad players. How could you think you were winning?". After taking his stack, I took great pleasure in simply telling him, "I didn’t".
I have Ace Ten in spades in the small blind, but it’s £1/£1 blinds so it doesn’t even cost half a bet to play. After four limpers, I just check and the big blind raises the pot – five quid more. A passive player trapped in middle position calls, so the pot is £21 and it’s £5 to me. It’s worth seeing the flop for sure.
Ace Seven Four. Top pair for me, but there’s no spades so I don’t have any redraw and I probably need help already. The big blind bets £10 after I check, and the middle player calls. I’m facing £10 for a pot of £41, and though I’m probably not ahead I figure the "worst call I ever saw" is actually worth it here for a combination of reasons.
There is a small a chance I’m actually ahead, against some combinations of pocket pairs, aces with poorer kickers or even worse. A pocket pair 88-KK for the big blind is very possible, and so I’m more concerned about whether the caller slowplaying something much stronger, or just coming along for the ride with any pair. I also have a chance to improve to a hand that’s most likely a winner. It’s only 3 outs at best (assuming nobody flopped a set) but it will make top two pair which should get me paid off by a big ace or a worse two pair. My call closes the action, and it gives me enough information to tell me how to proceed. The original raiser would have to suicidal to bet out again with any hand worse than a pair of aces after facing two calls with an ace on board, and I’d have to respect any bet from the middle player. I can easily fold on the turn without losing sleep if I’m facing a bet, so I think it’s £10 well spent.
The turn does brings a lovely – some might say miracle – ten though, and the big blind moves all in for £24, out of turn and without even looking at the next card. Really, what does this achieve here, except letting me make the easiest trap-check ever? The other player calls, which worries me a bit, but not enough. I’m ahead more often than not here, and the pot is huge. I push for another £27 and get called, they both table Ace King and don’t improve on the river. The small flop bet and middle player’s smooth call cost them both the pot – it was just cheap enough for me to get a little bit fishy, so I did.
I make it £160 to me and £8 in "donations" to the club. Everyone’s a winner. Nearly.