Saturday, December 12, 2009

WBPT, The Craziest Game Ever; Will I Ever Be Good At This Game?

I was in Las Vegas last weekend to tag along with my wife, Michele as she attended the Colorado River User Water Conference at Caesar's Palace. Naturally this meant lots of poker for me along with some alone time with the wife sans Jake.

My first foray down to the poker room at Caesar's was derailed at 10:00 AM because there was not a game running. There were only 2 tables with players at them and they were left overs from the 9:00 AM tournament. I went to get breakfast and kill some time until the 12:00 tournament. This is when I found the casino's excuse for a $5 black jack table.

Shockingly the minimum bet at a table with a live dealer for blackjack on a Thursday morning was $25. The alternative is video blackjack with a virtual dealer. The minimum bet is only $5. The video is creepy because it does not flow smoothly. Plus they change it every 5 minutes. It would be infinitely better if you could just freeze it on the hot dealer in a bikini dealing by the pool. Instead I got a steady diet of a good looking black man followed by a smiling japanese female.

This was fine for killing time, but I found one major fault with the game. Once you have put in a bet, there is no way to delete it or decrease it. I was content to play $5 at a time, but after winning a couple of hands in a row, I decided to up it to $10. I hit a button that said 10 but it increased my bet by 10x so I wound up betting $50. I frantically looked for the delete button as the clock ticked down but I could not find one. Oh well, maybe I'll get lucky. Nope. My 15 busts. I end up losing for $40 for the session before I walk into the poker tournament.

The noon tournament at Caesars had a good turnout with over 80 players for $85 a piece. I was disappointed to find out that the structure has changed since the last time I was there. Now the blind levels are only 20 minutes. They do start you with 130 BB but I knew that would not last too far past the second hour.

There was not anything real exciting about this experience. Some times in tournaments every move you make works out and other times it doesn't. I got caught bluffing repeatedly and my image was pretty bad. I never caught the really good cards to get paid off and I finally busted when an active player on the button raised my big blind. I had Kc9c and decided to ship in 18 BB over the top of him praying for the fold. This time he was raising with a good hand and called with Ace-King. I missed my flush and 3 pair outs and was out in around 50th place.

I played a good amount of No Limit cash games this weekend and here is my list of concerns.

1. Far too often I don't feel comfortable that I know where I am at in a hand. For some reason I think that I should be able to sit at a table at this level and have confidence that I can play better than most of the players at the table. This was rarely happening.

2. I still don't know how to adjust to certain tables that play different than ABC poker. Here's what gives me trouble:

A table with a bunch of loose passive players. They limp whenever they can and hardly ever raise. They never reraise. So I will raise good cards in position and get 3-5 other players in the hand. Unless I flop two pair or better, I can almost always expect to get beat by someone smooth calling AK and flopping top pair or a sneaky guy who hit his set.

The other kind of table is one I seldom run into but it should be insanely profitable. What do you do when you run into a player or two who is content to raise every hand 5x the blind in the dark? He will call almost any raise to see the flop and loves to try and outplay his opponents. Do you risk the reraise and c-bet any flop hoping he misses? Or do you call and try to wade through the other 3-4 players and just hope you hit a monster?

I posted the question on 2+2 and the majority response was to reraise my good hands or hands that can make top pair, good kicker. If I hit top pair or even middle pair, bet strong and hope it holds up. I'm sure that it becomes a much higher variance game and I have to be able to stomach the swings. However, in the long run that is probably the most profitable way to play it.

On Friday night I managed to convince my wife to join me in a forayh over to the Mirage to join the a bunch of Poker Bloggers and the World Poker Blogger Tour WPBT gathering. I found Iggy at the table and he warned me that the 1-2 No Limit game was crazy. "If you have any respect for money, this is not the game for you."

I sat back and watched and met Otis and Linda from PokerWorks . Michele decided to try her luck at the slots so I swallowed hard and decided to put my name on the list for the game.

I was quickly moved into the game and it was as crazy as advertised. The sole purpose of half the players at the table was to lay as bad a beat as possible on someone so they would have a story to write about when they got home. Multiple players were raising and reraising blind.

This is definitely not a game I am comfortable in but it should be profitable if my hands hold up. I was there to have a good time so that's what I decided to do. This didn't change my normal tight poker game much, but I made sure to interact and tell some jokes so maybe in their drunken stupor they would not notice that I was only playing premium hands.

Sure enough, on two different hands I raised preflop with Ace-Queen. Got called in a couple of spots. Flopped the Ace, and check raised all in on the flop. I got called by weaker Aces both times and left the game up over $300. Otis was down over $2,000 when I left. That's how swingy this game was.

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