Sometimes it pays to take a shot

So after spending 18 hours over 2 1/2 days to book a loss of $85 playing Hold’em this weekend in wild and wonderful West Virginia, I decided to throw caution and the remainder of my bankroll to the winds and take a shot at the recently opened 2/5 PLO game.

This is not recommended practice for someone with less than $500 in his pocket. Just sayin’.

But I took a shot for a couple of reasons. 1) I really wanted to play some Omaha, and it was the only game running, and it was atypical that they spread PLO in that casino, as they typically only spread 2/5 NLO, with an uncapped buy-in and a ton of $1,000 preflop raises. Maybe someday.

2) I thought that even with my mediocre skill in PLO, that I quite possibly had an edge over most of the players. While my home game is a haven for bad play on my part on that of others, the lessons in PLO I’ve picked up at Lee Jones’ place and Bad Blood’s joint this year put me in a position to, in my mind, have an edge over the self-taught gamblers who were more prone to play uncoordinated hands.

So I sat down with $200, by several hundred bucks the shortest stack, and proceeded to fold almost every hand for the first orbit. I picked up AAKx single-suited in early position and raised pot after most of the orbit had gone past, and saw a three-way flop. I flopped an ace, bet the pot, and took it down uncontested. I then proceeded to see a LOT of aces over the rest of the evening. I played for about an hour and a half, losing only those pots where I limped in and folded the flop, and cashed out up $450 to go to dinner.

There was a seat open in the same game when I got back from dinner, and it was to the immediate left of the player voted most likely to raise pot preflop, so I took that gladly, and put another $200 on the table. I bounced up and down a little until I got into a big mess where I flopped middle set on an A-J-8 board and called a big bet on the river by the guy who limped with his single-suited aces. I don’t like limping with Aces in early position, which is what he did, but it worked out for him to the tune of half my stack. From there I dwindled to about $125 when I decided to hit nothing but the nuts for the next two hours. I flopped nut straights that held, top sets that improved, and finally busted most of the rest of the table by running disgustingly hot.

We were three-handed when I dropped the ultimate cooler hand on the guy to my right. I had the button and limped blind, because there wasn’t really anything I wouldn’t play three-handed. He potted from the big blind and I looked down to find Ah-Ad-5h-x. I repotted, the small blind got out of the way, and BB called. Flop comes down Ax-Qh-9h, and bells are ringing in my head. But that might have been because I was in the middle of a massage as well as flopping the nuts with a nut flush redraw. He checks, I pot, he calls, and I’m confused. He’s shown a lot of restraint, and usually folds when I fire the flop bet unless he has a monster. So I re-check my cards, and yup, I’m ahead.

The turn brings the 4h, and he checks again. I pot again, and he calls again. Now I’m totally confused, because I’m pretty sure I’ve got a lock on the hand (barring quads), and this isn’t a guy to call off his chips when he’s way behind. But the river doesn’t pair the board, so with no quads there I have the nuts, he bets, I move all in, he calls and I double up after he shows Q-Q-Kh-Jh for the second nuts all the way around. Serious cooler on his part, and he was a little pissed at himself for not giving me credit for the nuts.

Eventually I ran it all up to a little over a grand, then gave a little away on a hand I should have gotten away from. I filled up on the river on a board of 7-10-4-8-7 with sevens full of eights, but called a value bet from the straight flush who tabled 5s-6s. No way I should have called there with the 6th nuts, so I only played a couple more hands and racked up. Certainly my biggest casino win in a long time, and it went a long way to erasing what had been a horrible run so far this year.

If any of you have ever played in my home game, then you’ve met Nate. Nate was the crazy old guy that chased everything in the world, and stacked your ass when he got there. I’m still not sure if Nate was the worst poker player in the world, or the best, but he was as gracious in losing as he was in winning. Nate passed away last Thursday night after a sudden heart failure at the age of 81 or 82. He was one of the kindest souls I’ve ever met, on the felt or off, and he will be missed. Somewhere, there’s a card game where Nate just hit a two-outer and tilted Jesus, I can tell.

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