"This was the first time he had seriously confronted what he was doing, and the force of that awareness came very abruptly- with a surging of his pulse and a frantic pounding in his head. He was about to gamble his life on that table, and the insanity of that risk filled him with a kind of awe."
I have this quote at the bottom of my email as my signiture. Why? Because unless you are a poker player or maybe some other form of gambler you don't know the feeling. Da' Rush for poker players is very different than with other sports or hobbies. For instance, in football you run out onto the field and jump up and down or do a dance. In poker you have to sit there and keep a still face...not trying to give off too much if you got Da Nuttzzz. Doyle always talks about the aura or feeling almost a sixth sense about some poker players...and if you are lined up across from one who has that sense it's hard to hide your exhileration. After all, it's hard to hide quads (that is you just hit four of a kind). If you do show it, you might not get them to bet into you. Of all the sports I have ever played (yes, poker is a sport and I will cover that in another issue) I think that poker is the only one where you can't show any emotions when you do something well. O.K. maybe chess is one where you can't show too much emotion because you have to concentrate so damn hard...yes, I was on the UCLA chess team. In any case, here is another little bit written by a fellow blogger TAO OF POKER. This was a hand with him and a Suit doing battle at the Borgata.
4:41pm EST... -265. The suit was a calling station. With AA in the BB and three limpers in the pot, I raised to $50, well over 25% of my stack. The suit called and before the last card was dealt on the all rags flop, I pushed my chips all in. He took his time and for the first time all day, my heart jumped out of my stomach while my breathing intensified. I live for those moments. Some folks jump out of airplanes, others climb misty mountain tops, and some party themselves into frenetic highs. The rare instances in my life when I never felt more alive and in the moment... were at poker tables. At 4:41pm EST... that moment was no different. I'll be chasing that high for many days in the future for sure. My heart was thumping harder than Monica Lewinsky rushing down the street to Krispy Kreme first thing in the morning. Sweat was dripping off my face harder than Patrick Ewing at the free throw line. The suit was staring me down. I couldn't decide if I wanted him to call and chase or fold. He took more time before he peeked at his cards one last time, sighed, then folded. I wish he waited a few more seconds. The rush of adrenaline sobered me up and kept me going for the next day or so.
I think it's this rush that people are always in search of. One time at a the Tropicana I lost my cool a bit after almost two hours of junk hands...how can one not get a bit on edge. The one KK I had no one played back at me. So I played one of those good old...no matter what I get next I'm playing till the end. I get delt an Ad5c..I think o.k. I have the Ad in there. All of the sudden the pot gets fat from two raises with 5 people still in...after the flop 5KJ everyone does the double re-raise...I get a piece with a 5d but all five people are still in...I'm still staying to the end I tell myself. The turn bring a miracle 5 and my heart jumps out of my shirt...but I'm putting people one some good hands since no one has jumped ship...I'm looking and a guy limps in...I see his hand shaking and I know I have to raise...I see the shaking of the hand as a sign of weekness, not strength. I pop it up and get reraised....two drop out now it's three handed. The guy fills the two raise (still shaking...there is not much out there for him I figure, but I'm a bit scared I might be reading wrong)...there is a good chunk of change in there but I'm thinking the guy to my left has pocket K or J...but I can't get out now...too much money in the pot and I said, "till the end". The river comes and there it is...the A. I have a low end boat...I check figuring the guy to left to bet...he did...comes around after the guy to my left fills...I say...take her up a notch...I'm sitting there with Da' Nuttzz knowing this is going to be the hand to bring a smile to my face and to pay for my dinner and make my two and half hour drive back to NYC via greyhound worth it. My heart must have been racing about a million miles a second I felt very cold for some reason...almost like there was no life in me but so much life. Everyone is about to turn them over and I call "BOAT" and the two other players peep my baby boat...look and chuck their cards.
I learned a lesson on this hand. I should have let those guys show their hands before I called "Boat" and showed off a bit. Sure it was the only win I got in two hours, but I could have learned a lot by seeing what they had. Did they get three of a kind? Did they have junk? Why did they come down the river with me and with what? I won the hand but lost a lot of information...so although the heart gets going a million miles an hour you always need to remember that in poker one can't dance and jump when in the endzone...as the legendary Bear Bryant of Univ. of Alabama use to tell his boys after they scored a touchdown, "act like you have been there before". This little touch of playing things down will help in the long run and make you a stronger player.
I suppose most of you on the East Coast have taken a stab at Atlantic City at least once or twice in your lifetime. For some of you it's the mecca of everything seedy as hell and for others of you it's a paradise. Myself, I take the latter of the two. I don't know, to me AC has the grim reality that should be a casino city (o.k. so AC isn't a city) or town. You know, a rough edge to it. Although now they are building that huge strip mall with outlet stores, no this isn't the Disneyland that Vegas has become, it still holds on to it's small ghetto projects right in downtown (they have yet to be built over with new casinos but I think this might be changing very soon). There are several places to play poker in AC and they all have their strong points and weak points. In this blog I'm going to speak on three casinos that I enjoy playing poker at.
Don't let the name fool you...this place is not close to anything tropical or any kind of Oasis. Sure in Vegas it would be lined with fake palm trees and mirage like settings...but this is AC and it's a big ulgy building. What I really enjoy about the Tropicana Poker Room is that it's got that classic dark-heavy oak feel in the room. Kind of reminds me of an old steakhouse in Brooklyn or an old Irish Bar. Players are well taken care of either it be food or drinks. Although, I do think they need a few more waitresses on patrol and the food can be improved. Each player is given a seperate poker card (diff. than the tropicana casino card) where he/she can get rooms at a very reduced rate after only 4 or 5 hours of play. These rates change with the seasons but now you can get a nice small room for 60.00 dollars...not bad. Rake a couple of hands and you have a room for the night. Plus, you can put a little nickname on your card if you wish. The lines for tables are not long at all and they are always willing to open up a new table if they can make a table with the waiting list. Tables are the usual 2-4/4-8 and so on. Although to be honest, I haven't really noticed any big game tables at the Topicana. The dealers at the Tropicana are nice and sometimes a bit inexperienced. This is to be expected at the lower limit tables, I try and be patient, after all, we have all started new jobs from time to time. Plus, I believe in good Karma...treat them right and they will throw you good cards somewhere down the line. All in all I would have to give the Tropicana about a 6 or 7 on a number scale. The light can be improved along with the food and they can train their young dealers a bit more. But all in all great tournaments and nice friendly people who take your business serious.
The Borgata is the new kid on the block in terms of casinos in AC. It's seperate downstairs poker room is very well run. There is no writing down initials of waiting lists and someone reading them off ramdomly. No, the Borgata is state of the art...they have a computer generated list that is displayed on plasma screens so everyone knows where they are at. I'm sure this saves them time being that at other casinos people are always walking up and yelling, where am I on the list. Also, I have to say that Borgata has the best floor managers. They are well trained and come right over to the table if there is any problem what so ever and if your table ever gets low on players ask them to cut the rake in half and they tend to be o.k. with it. I find the dealers to be nice and experienced, but they can tend to have an attitude from time to time and that kind of ruins the table. The downstairs cafeteria is o.k. and the waitresses are always willing to bring you a beer...although like most poker rooms they forget your order from time to time. They have good priced tables 2-4/3-6 and so forth. There are about one or two high stake tables going from time to time, but I'm not sure the limits and how high they go. All in all I would have to give the Borgata about a solid 7 or low 8. I think the floor bosses really impress me with their control of the floor and keeping the action going.
: Not really sure about the Taj...I suppose it reminds me of that song, "Thin Line Between Love and Hate". There is the stadium feel this place in the sense that it's wide and large...not to mention, it has topped with The Donald cheese to boot. But Donald, can't we put some decorations on the walls at the very least. Also, with all the floor space and rakes you are collecting spread things out and get some new carpet in the place. Yet, where else would you want to play? This place has the air of a poker room with all the old men in there that sit and tell you stories all day long as the cards are being passed on the felt. I mentioned that I hadn't seen big money game at the Borgota or Tropicana much, but you can see them here all over the place...mostly in the back, but you have guys with their hundred dollar chips stacked high and higher and a wad of 50 or so hundred dollars bills stacked right next to them. Yes, this is called high stakes poker. There is a lot more 7 card stud action and also Omaha here than at most casinos since they old timers seem to favor this place. Let me tell you, they take their 7 card stud very serious here and only the serious players should apply. The service isn't that good due to cramped floor. All in all I still have mixed feelings on this location. Of the three times I played here I found the tables to be pretty tough to ink out a small victory. But for some reason to me this is where the really good poker is played in AC. I would have to give this place a 7.
In closing, next blog I will be writing about some books that I find to be interesting and a good read.
There is so much to write about the current state of poker. I, myself, being one of the individuals who grinds out a little extra dough for spending via poker finds it nice to see so many new faces to the poker rooms and cyber-poker- rooms of America and the world. This whole notion of grinding out a small living via poker has taken many low stake players (such as myself) by storm. But let's face it, it's a very hard life to live and catching the Greyhound from NYC to AC every week can become taxing. Not to metion it's hard to stay focused every hand via computer. There are several ways to combat the boaring lifestyle that comes with grinding out a few extra bucks via the 2-4, 3-6 and 4-8 tables either in the poker rooms of america or at home.
Walkman, Diskman, or MP3
- only use one earphone and most places are cool with you having one on. Pay attention so you don't miss the action at the table...if you are too focused on the music they might make you take it off. And please don't start singing at the table...only dorks looking for attention do that. I enjoy some clasical music - it keeps one calm and level headed...even when beat on the river.
- I always have some cashew nutzzz in my pocket when playing.
Phones and TV's
- I always make it a point to turn these two things off. If I had a land line phone I would probably unplug it. I know this might sound very basic and somewhat over the top at the same time, but it's essential to get those extra distractions out of the way. I know in public poker rooms the tv is always on and the game is showing...tune it out!
Try and Improve One Thing
- Every session I sit down I try and improve one thing. It can be basic like knowing where the button is every deal. This will improve your game and allow you to learn how to control a table in the future. I know this seems so basic to most of us, but I have learned that this builds not only knowledge of the game, but also stamina when playing. I read so many poker blogs that talk about this and books also...but until you grasp this your game will not improve. After seeing many hands delt in card rooms for hours, I have learned that picking something up here and there will improve your game. Currently I'm trying to improve my read on people. This is life-long I know, but trying to catch some of the little things on tells...I think I might have the shaking hand thing down...ok obvious, but like I said, little things.
In closing, I hope this might help you with your game. I will continue to post tomorrow on some books you might want to read to improve your game.