Marathon Monday with special guest blogger Radio Mike!

January 15, 2018

9:45 AM: Hello everybody! It’s a Very Special Edition of the Marathon Monday $15-30 Poker Blog, with your guest host Mike. Your usual host loves to use nicknames, and he settled on ‘Radio Mike’ for me, but I’m not really into that.

I am your pinch-blogger today since the regular guy in these parts is down in L.A. trying to win poker tournaments. The bum didn’t let me buy a piece. However, his absence is a good development for the $15-30 game at Palace, since the best player in town isn’t going to be in the game.

It could be bad for me, though. After losing every pot I played against the Dark Knight for roughly two years, I’ve been cleaning up against him the last couple of sessions. So much that he’s even discussed it on this very blog. Let’s hope the trend continues when he gets back in town (sorry, Dark Knight, but you left me the keys to the house, and that comes with the risk that you might take some shots).

Before we begin I should note that I am not a professional poker player like Dark Knight. I’m a solid winner over a couple thousand hours at $8-16, and a confirmed loser over several hundred hours at the $20-40 level. I see this new $15-30 game in my home ballpark as an opportunity to improve my skills at higher stakes. Part of the reason I agreed to be the substitute blogger is so that Dark Knight can pick apart my play and tell me what a donkey I am.

That being said, I’ve been running hotter than the sun in this weekly $15-30 game since it started two months ago. I’m not out-playing the competition or anything – I’ve simply been hit by the deck. The regs have noticed and it gives me some added fold equity which I have been taking advantage of.

So let’s play a session. This is my first time writing about poker, and I have to warn you that things will be a little different on the blog today. There will be no meditation, no yoga, and definitely no trip to the gym. I won’t be bringing a backpack like I’m going on a goddam camping trip. I did, however, review a few Elements this morning while sitting on the can. That’s my poker bible. Nothing prepares me for a fresh session or heals the wounds of a tough loss like that book.

Also, these aren’t actual live updates. I’m going to take notes while I play and type the rest of this when I get home, and then Dark Knight is posting it all at once.

I’m optimistic that we’ll get a full table early today. There were seven names on the list when I left (after getting smoked for 2.5 racks in $8-16) last night, and I recognized five of them as reliable game-starters. The fact that it is a holiday for some workers should help the game – apparently Pay-Off Pete doesn’t have to work, because he was on the list. And maybe the fact that Dark Knight isn’t playing will sway some $8-16 players to take their first shot.

11:00 AM: Uh-oh. My initial optimism for a full game was unwarranted. A regular who surprisingly doesn’t have a nickname yet and seems to be a normal, reliable human being is a no-show – we later learned he called the floor and told them he wasn’t coming, confirming his reliability but not helping the situation. No sign of Pay-Off Pete, who put himself on the list as he walked out last night. Five players including me buy chips to sit down, but one of them – known around these parts as FBI Guy (retired) – claims he won’t play unless it’s seven-handed. Sheesh. A floor man sits in to make it six-handed, FBI Guy (retired) relents, and the cards are in the air at 11:20.

I bought in for two racks ($1000), with enough for two more in my pocket if needed – that’s my standard, Dark Knight approved strategy. The reality is if I get deep into a third rack I’ll probably quit. Unlike Dark Knight, if I get bludgeoned to death I’d rather go home than try to fight through the misery. I admire his massive comebacks but I’m not there yet.

11:50: Thirty minutes in and I’m already down a rack, still looking for Pot A. I’ve been very active, raising and firing with JJ, Q9ss, 33 and losing when I get out-flopped. Twice FBI Guy (retired) has gotten me on a four-on-the-board flush. Am I really going to add the third rack after just 30 minutes?

11:51 Nope! I won a pot. After multiple limpers I call from the cutoff with A6hh, flop AT5 with two clubs, bet all streets with only FBI Guy (retired) calling, third club comes on the turn and this time he doesn’t have the flush.

11:55 The blog character known as Chief Wiggum has arrived, making us seven-handed. He sits down and posts in MP, and two hands later we tangle in the first interesting hand of the day. Wiggum limps in UTG+1, a common move for him, and we see a four-way limp pot holding J9o in the big blind. Flop comes 955. I bet, he calls, someone else calls. Turn is a 4. I bet, Wiggum raises, other player folds. Wiggum plays a wide range of hands passively preflop, but he’s no fool post flop. With his raise he has either A9, T9, 98, a miracle 44 in the hole, or… the dreaded A5. Figuring I can beat most of his 9s and nothing else, I just call. River is a beautiful 9, double-pairing the board. I bet, he raises, I call while saying “Looks like we have the same hand,” and he replies with “I don’t think so, sir.” He turns over the pocket 5s for quads and a $499 Marathon Monday bonus.

12:42: Despite the Wiggum Setback, I’m surging into the black. Flop a joint with KTo and get paid on all streets. Open AJo in early position, no less than five people cold-call, flop comes JT6 with two clubs, I lead every street and my hand holds when all the draws brick out. The dealer throws me an AQ offsuit, flops K76 with two clubs, I c-bet and three people call. Turn is an 8 double-suiting the board, it checks around, river is an offsuit Q and I value bet but they all fold. Then I get a free look with T3 in the big blind, four players see an AQT rainbow flop, these guys all limped so obviously nobody has any of that let’s bet, two of them call, turn is another ten so let’s keep betting, people call with whatever hands limpers limp and call with, and we are tasting sugar for the first time today.

12:50: Meanwhile, Chief Wiggum needs to call the local fire department to put him out because he is aflame. He’s got a massive stack and has been here for only an hour. Someone says “you’re hot” and a few agree, he replies “I’m just catching cards,” and I can’t help but ask “Will you please stop?”

12:55: I was not in this hand, but I present to you: “How To Play Aces” – A Brief Document published by your local chapter of The Federal Bureau of Investigations (retired). With three preflop limpers in front of you, limp along to disguise your pocket aces and spring a trap later. They’ll never know what hit ‘em! When the cutoff raises, just call to keep your hand secret for now. See a flop of 863 and when one of the early limpers bets, call again because it’s too early to show your strength. Don’t worry about that K on the turn – just call, there is still a river left. When the river brings a deuce and the EP player bets for his third time, now you spring into action. Raise the river! Got him! Wait, what’s that? He has K8 for two pair? Oh.

1:15: First break of the day. When marathoning it’s important to take a break every two or three hours. I usually just walk a lap around the Chips/Palace building, which is entirely parking lot. There is some sort of landfill lagoon thing behind the lot and sometimes you see some wildlife, like a feral cat or a cool-looking bird. This time I saw nothing but a single black crow flying over my head, cawing at me. Umm, that’s good luck, right?

1:25: A classic spot with QQ: after two limpers (yes this game has been gloriously limpy), I raise, blinds call, five players see the A83. Both blinds checked in the dark, others check to me I bet and two of them call. That’s not good. Turn brings another A and now I have hope – but the passive UTG limper now leads with a bet. I’m not good enough to fold here, but I think I probably should. I give his A9 two streets of value. Dark Knight, can you fold here?

1:45: I draw some oohs and aahs by capping from small blind with AK off, four players plus some dead bets to the flop of J74, I lead all streets and get there with a running TQ and loudly reveal my “just close your eyes and keep betting” strategy. Actually up $250 now.

2:15: FBI Guy (retired) has retired from this game, and is replaced by the blog character known as Taz. He posts in the BB, I try to steal from the hijack with A8o but he three-bets. In retrospect I should consider folding right there knowing the player, but I call hoping to flop a bunch of 8s I guess and we end up checking down a board of all low cards. He wins with an unimproved AK, which I don’t believe I could ever bet him off of with a paint-free board.

2:34: I get dealt ‘The Grump’ in the big blind – my favorite place for The Mighty Deuce-Four. With a raiser and three callers I’m getting 9-to-1 so let’s call and see what happens. Flop comes 652 and we have a Bingo! I check with the preflop raiser next to act, hoping to raise the entire field, but apparently he recognizes the dangerous possibility that somebody may be holding The Grump and it checks around. Turn is a 4, I bet and they all know, and they all fold. (R.I.P. Poker Grump)

2:55: This is trouble: four players either go broke or cash out (Wiggum) in rapid succession, and we are five-handed including a floor man who has rejoined the game.

It’s been a very odd day at the Palace, and not at all what I was expecting. They have all ten tables going at this time – but only one 8-16 game with a short list, and our short-handed 15-30, and a whopping five 4-8 games along with two 3-6s and a 6-12 Omaha. Very strange to see one 8-16 with barely any list, and we weren’t taking the players in the 15-30 – we were short, too, with just four players and a floor man!

4:00: You may have noticed all of the preflop limping from my opponents in the hands described above. Let’s just say that these guys were not likely to fare well in a short-handed situation. I quickly ran my stack up to +1050 and then maintained it at about +900 over the last hour by playing aggressively and encountering little resistance.

But now we are filling up again. Part-Time has arrived, along with another player, and a couple minutes later Action Bronson shows up and someone else jumps in and the table is full.

4:05: Interesting hand. New player limps in EP, lady in middle position raises, I three-bet the button with AQo, the small blind takes three bets right to his face in a gruesome sight, EP and MP call and the four of us see a flop of T75 with two hearts. The limper bets, lady in MP calls, I call, and the small blind – still staggering from the force of all of those bets to his face – folds. Turn is an offsuit Ace. The limper bets in rhythm and the lady in MP insta-calls, and I’m now officially worried about a set in addition to the straight and flush draws. Remember, there is a $499 bonus for quads, which brings set passivity. I just call (typing that makes me feel terrible – I know I should be jacking that turn). River is the 2 of hearts, bringing the flush. Limper bets, MP calls, and I… overcall? WTF am I doing here? I play so bad sometimes. Turns out they both flopped sets, fives for limper and tens for MP, who takes the pot.

Two hands later I raise in MP with AK and… wait a second, Action Bronson button straddled, and I didn’t see it. Shit. Luckily everyone folds and the two of us see a JT6 flop. I bet he calls. Turn is a Q bringing me broadway. I bet and he says “I can’t fold now” and calls. River blank, bet he folds his K4 straight draw face up and then tries to put me on tilt by telling me how bad Cal Basketball is this year. I know, dude, oh boy do I know.

4:20: Time for break No. 2, another walk around the building. Out back I don’t see any wildlife, unless you count a couple of poker dealers on their vape break.

4:55 This game has changed. Everyone has agreed to straddle, and we are playing seven-handed, so a lot of chips are going in. I start to run bad. TT is no good on the 843 flop when the 2 turn and A river makes 75 a winner. I 3-bet the straddle with AQ from the small blind and fire all streets unimproved vs three players, getting two to drop off and one I was sure was drawing for a flush… but he calls my river bet and shows a middle pair of nines. I’ve lost a rack during this stretch and am now at +450.

Meanwhile the unknown player in Seat 6 is playing every single hand and flopping two pair repeatedly. He’s on the biggest heater we have seen today, and is up three racks plus he’s got another $499 in his pocket for quads.

5:00: Dark Knight checks in via text from Commerce. I tell him a little about the game, and how I was up two racks but am plummeting back to earth. He replies that as the designated blogger, it’s my responsibility to be stuck all day and make a late comeback to win $200. No thanks.

I’m starting to get hungry again, which is a problem. I had breakfast right when the game started, and now it’s time for dinner – but I am not a fan of the food here. Breakfast is fine, but I don’t care for the other items at all. Yes, you are reading this correctly: I am complaining about the free food.

5:30: The guy in Seat 6 is still on a tear, and he is now up about five racks. He has revealed that he is a golfer, and an extremely stuck Action Bronson – a scratch golfer who is a member of the country club here – is in serious negotiations to get him on the course so he can win his money back. This is quite amusing.

5:39: A brief bit of common poker strategy for y’all, which I maybe shouldn’t share: watch for fold tells. I raise ep with AJhh, only Part-Time and Seat 6 call. Flop K88 I bet and Seat 6 calls. Turn is a 6, and as I’m pondering if I should fire again Seat 6 faintly begins his fold motion – decision made. I bet, he mucks, we move on while stacking the chips.

6:00: Seat 6 leaves with $3500 in chips and a $499 jackpot in his pocket. He bought in for $1000 less than two hours ago. Wow.

6:19: With Seat 6 out, we hold on for a couple more rounds. But three players quit simultaneously and the game breaks.

This is the first time, I believe, that the Palace $15-30 hasn’t gone well into the night. There is still only one 8-16, with one name on the list. The higher-stakes players simply didn’t show up today.

Still, I had another good result in the game. A couple of late pots pushed me up to +719 for seven hours of play. Not bad, not bad at all!

Thanks for reading along. Hopefully the Dark Knight crushes some tourneys in L.A. and decides to stay there for a while.

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