Atlantic City, Part 2
After donating the last bit of gambling money I had budgeted for the day to a ridiculous spinning wheel, I headed back to the hotel alone. When I got there, I took a shower to wash off the bad beats and the bad play and went to bed. Kevin and Rich stormed in a few hours later with nothing good to report.

Saturday morning after we awoke we decided a real breakfast was in order. So we got ready and headed down to the boardwalk. We found a diner with an all day breakfast and Rich and I were treated to the worst eggs we've ever eaten. Despite the quality of the food, all three of us managed to laugh and share bad beat stories. Rich was getting brutalized at the limit tables and Kevin wasn't having much luck either. At this point I had no aspirations of getting even for the trip. I just wanted to book a winning session and get my confidence back. We walked along the boardwalk and found ourselves in the Tropicana's poker room. If the Taj was aged, the Trop was ancient. It was a small, dark, cramped room with a bunch of old fossils at every table. Neither Kevin or I had any desire to play there. Rich eventually agreed and we headed further down the boardwalk to the Hilton.

The Hilton poker room was small, clean and well kept. Nothing special, but a decent room none the less. The crowd seemed to be mostly regulars though and they had no 2-5 games going. But Rich and Kevin were contemplating signing up for their 2pm tourney. 5000 in starting chips with 30 minute blinds starting at 25-50 seemed like a good deal for a 60+15. I wasn't really in the mood for a tourney so I put my name on the interest list for 2-5 and then Rich picked up a complimentary magazine from their bin and said, "Hey isn't this your issue?". Sure enough, there was Gavin Griffin in all his pink haired glory on the cover of an advanced copy of CardPlayer magazine and inside was my piece on Myst talking about Monte Carlo. It was great to see my name listed as an author inside the pages of a "big time" publication like CardPlayer and it lifted my spirits a bit. The article came out great! While I was reading it though, Rich and Kevin realized that today's tourney was actually a 200+25 and they didn't want to play. I suggested we return to the Borgata and then consider playing the 60+15 on Sunday instead. They agreed and we were off to find a cab.

When we got to the Borgata, I made a b-line to the poker room like a man on a mission. I was determined to play well and book a winning session. I played for 13 hours at a fast and loose table. I just waited for opportunities to show down the best hand in big pots and tried to catch people overplaying their cards. I was doing well and then came the following hand.

I looked down at QQ in middle position and made it 35$ to go. The button and the cut-off both called. The flop came 2-3-4 with 2 clubs and I lead out for 85$. The cut-off folded and the button called. The turn came a 5 of clubs. I bet 120$ and the button moved all-in for 200$ more. I went into the tank. Basically, the board is about as disgusting as they come. Virtually any drawing hand that the button calls me with hit the turn. But this player was all about aggressive, suicidal bluffs. I had already called him down with a bottom end straight on a 3-card flushing board and been correct. I knew he was capable of sticking his chips in with almost nothing, just based on the board texture. I had the clock called on me. I was really taking my time to make the decision, sweating him out. I didn't let the clock phase me. I just examined my opponent and started stacking my chips. He did not want me to call and when it started to look like I was going for it, he gave me a pretty strong physical tell that sealed the deal. I moved my chips in and he looked sick. He started to say, "I just have... " as the dealer dealt the final card, a red 7, "... two pair!" and he showed me the 5-7 of spades in his hand for yet another sickening river suck out. I did not handle this one very well. I slammed my cards face up on the table and said, "how fucking sick a call is that, I mean what the fuck!" and I stormed off.

I'm really not proud of the way I dealt with that beat, but I am happy that I was able to focus and come to the right decision in a pretty difficult spot. I was able to collect myself and return to the table, calm and ready to play. I still had a little over a buy-in in my stack even after that last hand so I went back to the grind. My string of lousy cards continued but I managed to stave off the "poker slots" phenomenon until I finally looked down at AA on the button. What a site for soar eyes! There was a raise to 15$ early and two callers, so I re-popped it to 60$ and got one caller in late position. The flop came Q-7-4 and the caller check-raised me all in after I bet 150$, I had over 400$ behind and I had him cover by about 60$, so his all-in was for about 340$ more. I sat there and tried to analyse the situation. It was a rainbow board and I had only ever seen him slow play his monsters. That bet from that opponent really made no sense to me. After some thought, I reasoned that he had to be bluffing. I called. The turn brought a 6 and the river another Queen. He proudly said, "boat!" and flipped over Q-6. Once again, I had made the right read and was ahead when the money went in only to get sucked out on and lose most of my stack. I picked up my 60$ and left the table fuming. I walked by Kevin shaking the meager stack of chips in my hand and said, "money saved is money earned, right?" and I just kept walking. He called me back over to him and said, "No 'click, click, click'" referring to my "wheel of misfortune" adventure from the previous night. I told him not to worry, I wouldn't be doing that again. He said he had managed to get unstuck a little and was ready to leave. We convinced Rich to come back with us too and went out to hail a cab.

We got to our room around 10:30pm and by the time we got back in, the boys were ready to go out and gamble again. I had cooled off on the cab ride, but my bankroll for the trip had severely dwindled. The boys convinced me to come with them to the Taj and play some 1-2. So, off we went again.

I sat down at a 1-2 table and basically ran over the game. It was as if all these players had started reading the same poker book and they were all on about Chapter three, while I was doing stuff from Chapters four and fine and robbing them blind in the process. They let me exploit position, float flops, lead draws, control pot sizes, it was wonderful. I quickly built my stack to just over 500$ before any of them caught on and then disaster struck. It was well after 2am, I was tired and started lose focus and they merged our table with another one. The new players just called me down and I quickly lost back most of my profit, because my lack of focus didn't allow me to switch gears soon enough to stop the bleeding. Nevertheless, I ended the session with a bit of a profit (about half a buy-in) and I was feeling a bit better. We headed back to bed so we'd be rested for Sunday, which by now we had decided was gonna be tourney day at the Hilton.

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