Monday, June 21, 2004
Doubled Up at Foxwoods -- Woo-Hoo!
A few weeks ago I posted about a Friday night that B (Mrs. Cheap Thrills) and I spent at Foxwoods. In that post I wrote about how few hours I've put into live casino poker as compared to online play. I am becoming a very confident online Hold'em player, but sitting down at a real casino card table I still feel a bit like a newbie. Well, that won't do at all, so I've committed myself to heading down to Foxwoods at least once every 6 weeks, and hopefully once a month.
This weekend B was out of town, so I cruised down to Foxwoods Friday night. Last time we had set out at 4pm; this time I ate a good dinner beforehand and didn't leave until 6:30. For some reason the traffic was actually a little worse, but the wait at the cardroom was still a mere 20 minutes and I was seated by 8pm. I bought in for $100 at the $2/$4 table.
I have to admit that I still got a bit nervous when I first sat down at the table. I guess it's just the hustle and bustle of the busy Foxwoods cardroom, coupled with the anticipation of playing--my adrenaline level just seems to go up when those first cards are dealt to me. I was seated at the uncomfortable 1 position, with the dealer toke box jamming into my right thigh. Also during my 20 minute wait I couldn't find an issue of Cardplayer to read, so instead I had purchased a Daily Racing Form--which is about twice the size of a standard magazine--and I was having a hard time finding somewhere to put the damn thing as I sat down.
So I'm feeling nervous, uncomfortable, and awkward. Also mildy paranoid. The 4 guys at one end of the table (in the 7, 8, 9, and 10 seats) seemed to know each other, and I start worrying about whether they'll be trying to raise people out of pots or otherwise engage in collusion.
This state of heightened nervousness only lasted 10 minutes or so. I forced myself to calm down and get comfortable. And I quickly realized that my nervousness and paranoia were completely irrational. The 4 guys on the end may know each other, but they're joking around and having a good time. Surely that's a better sign than if they were sitting there all silent and intense-like. And as I actually begin to concentrate on the game I see that only 3 other players seem to be remotely tight. Even better, there's very little raising. Also, the cocktail waitress finally notices me, and the cold beer is very soothing, even if there's only 8 ounces of it.
After I'm there for a couple hands the 4 guys at the end of the table notice me. "Hey, new guy! How ya doin?" "Whoa, Hawaii 5-0, that's a nice shirt. You can tell this guy's on vacation!" (I like to wear a Hawaiian shirt at the casino; it reminds me of being in Las Vegas.) For the rest of the night the guys refer to me as "Hawaii." One of the guys was a real class-clown type, and throughout the evening he was giving funny little nicknames to new players as they sat down, flirting with female dealers, etc.
Good Cards, Loose Players
The first pot I won was with K-10 suited. It had been 3-bet preflop, I made the flush on the turn, and had like 3 callers on the river. Big pot. The next hand I won was with a pair of 8s when I made my set on the flop. Bigger pot. Then my big slick paired a King on the flop and it held up. Small pot. I was at the table for at least 2 hours and had taken 5 pots before I lost a showdown.
Turns out the 4 guys on the end were just about as loose as can be. Let me state the obvious: Players who are fun, friendly, and loose-passive make for a freakin' great table. If there was any collusion going on, it was that they would only fold on the river if one of them had already called, so that they could all see the winning hand. I think they might have been there for a convention or something; one of them had a sticker on his chest. Whatever the case, they didn't come to fold and they didn't seem to care about the money. The clowny guy must've burned through $200 just in the time I was there. Boy was I a moron for getting nervous about them.
The 10-seat had called me down on my first 3 winning hands. It was kind of funny because we couldn't really see each other well, with the dealer between us, and on the hand after I had raised/bet him the whole way with AK, he bet out on the next hand, then asked the other guys "Did Hawaii raise again? Jeez, that guy's scaring the crap out of me." He was just kidding, and showing he wasn't angry about the previous loss. They were all pretty funny guys and gracious losers. I consciously reminded myself not to get ego-inflated and to just play smart and tight.
And it was good that I did continue to play tight, because my rush was over. I won a few more hands, but no more really big pots. I had doubled up, though!
Still Learning the Finer Points of Not Looking Like an Idiot at the Casino
I didn't like being in the 1-seat, so when the 6-seat opened up I asked for a seat change. At the time we had a dealer who didn't speak English well, and she told me no, trying to explain that I would need to pay the big blind again if I moved. By the time I made it clear that I didn't care about the $2, could I just please take the better seat, the seat was taken by a new player. Then she gave me the "seat change" button and I eventually relocated to the 4-seat. This is the kind of thing I need to learn: Next time I'm in a bad seat I'll just ask for the seat change button immediately.
Relocating to the 4-seat was awkward for a couple of reasons. First, I had about $210 in $2 chips, and I laboriously moved them stack by stack across the the table from the 1 to the 4-seat, with the whole table watching me. I should have gone and gotten a rack, but I was worried the new player would arrive and take the seat. Next time I'll just throw my Cardplayer or whatever out there to claim the seat. Second, I don't think the 3-seat cared for me moving to his left, and he mumbled something to that effect. He actually turned out to be pretty cool, and later we shared a couple "oh the humanity" moments at the awful play going on at the other end of the table. However, I should be prepared from now on to that kind of reaction to my seat change and 1) do my seat change ASAP after sitting down and 2) not give a flying f*** if anybody gives me a hard time about it.
Another thing about casino play--the novelty of not being sure exactly how much money is in front of you. I can't help buy hear Kenny Rogers singing "you never count your money . . . " but that's exactly what I had to do several times. That's another thing I need to stay on top of.
Deciding When to Quit
At one point in the evening I was up to $250. I made decision that I'm still a little ambivalent about--having more than doubled up, I determined that I wasn't going to let my stack dip below $200. Overall I think this was a sensible decision, but I could also hear a little shark on my shoulder yelling "What are you, a wuss? This isn't blackjack, it's poker, and this is the juciest table you've ever seen!" However, by 11:00 the shoulder shark was quieting down. I kept getting decent cards and having the flop miss me entirely, which is course worse than just getting lousy hole cards. Also several players left and the table mood began to change. In particular, the calling-station 10-seat was replaced by a silent, older, Asian gentleman who had "I am not a fish" tattooed on his forehead. I am kidding about that last part.
The last straw was that a dealer with short arms sat down at our table. By "a dealer with short arms" I mean that the dealer sat down and when it came time to pull in bets or folded cards she announced "I have short arms" and those of us on the ends hand to push in the chips and cards for her. This is the second time in 2 visits that I have been a short-armed dealer's table. It kind of reminds me of when you get a customer service representatiove on the phone who doesn't speak English well--it just seems like a serious impediment to the job. Don't get me wrong, I understand that a dealer's job is difficult--dealing poker seems much more difficult than dealing other games--but that's why I tip. Having the dealer admonish "push em in, fellas" every hand and every round of betting is just one more distraction at the table.
With the cold cards, the new players, and the short-armed dealer, I decided it was about time to go. I saw the flop one more time with Ax suited, it missed entirely, and I stood up. I had $202. With exactly $200 fitting in the rack, the extra $2 went to Short Arms.
I had won $100. I know that's not much in the grand scheme of things, but for yours truly of the Cheap Thrills it was the biggest casino casino win--in fact, the biggest single-session poker win--I've ever had. (I paid $15 in dealer and cocktail waitress tips, so I guess I could call it a $115 win.)
I got home by 12:15am, and after a few minutes of the Victorious JD dance, I hopped onto Paradise Poker. I won $25 at .50/$1 Hold'em and $20 at .50/$1 7-Card Stud before hitting the hay. I had never even played .50/$1 7-Card Stud before! I went to bed confident that I was either 1) a Complete Poker Bad-Ass or 2) having a really lucky night. I think it was probably #2, but the little shark on my shoulder was screaming "You're #1! You're #1!"
A Note on the Rake
Seriously though, I had great cards and a great table at Foxwoods, and I know that won't happen all the time. Another consideration is that I actually paid attention to the rake this time, after Chris Halverson had commented on my previous post that being down $15 over 6 hours is actually slightly "up" due to the rake. I meant to ask the dealer about the rake but forgot. I am surprised that I cannot find specific rake info on the Foxwoods website. A search of "Foxwoods rake" on Google turns up one guy saying "[At $2/$4] they rake $1 for evey $10 in the pot capped at $4," and on RGP Ashley Adams says that it's "10 percent with a $4 max." I'm pretty sure the dealer was taking $2 off the flop on Friday. I'll definitely ask for specifics next time I'm there.
Anyway, the point is that $2/$4 at Foxwoods just may not be very profitable over the long term. Clearly I should move up to $4/$8 ASAP, where the rake would still be $4 but the pots would be bigger. However, I don't want to jump up in limits after just one win. I'll do a few more sessions at $2/$4 and work on getting really comfortable at the casino first.
Another consideration: B and I are headed out to San Francisco in August. She's got a convention to go to; for me it'll be pure vacation. I'm thinking about hitting a California cardroom (Bay 101?) and we are also considering doing a 1 or 2 night stopover in Las Vegas on the way back. (Woo-hoo!) So I better get ready to play some $3/$6 and $4/8.
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