Slot Comps and Late Night Donkey Poker

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I had planned on going for a run first thing this morning, but when I woke up, it was raining hard. That was all I needed as an excuse to set the alarm back a couple hours and sleep until right before it was time for me to log on for work.

Luckily I was up on the 15th floor and the hotspot on my iPad was strong enough for me to work from my hotel room. After logging in and taking a quick call with my boss, I headed down to claim my free slot voucher for opting out of maid service. Harrah’s was giving $20 of free slot play and I was hoping maybe I could turn that into a little boost to my bankroll.

I immediately headed to the two coin max $1 machine that had the lowest payout on the assumption that it would give me the best odds of at least a little win. Ten spins later and not even a cherry. Standard. Back to work for my 9 to 5.

By lunchtime, the weather had cleared and it was a beautiful early spring day in the mountains. I had recently started a keto diet and hadn’t eaten many carbohydrates in the last couple of days. Looking out the window at the fog hanging across the mountain valleys felt like a metaphor for my brain at that moment.

I decided to try some exogenous ketones with caffeine for the first time hoping that it would give me the energy to power me through my run. Fifteen minutes later, I could feel the the chemical boost. Whether it was the caffeine or the ketones, I couldn’t tell, but I was ready to go.

Cranking up the tunes, I did some quick stretching and then ran down the 15 flights of stairs to warm up the legs. My legs felt strong and my playlist was in sync with my rhythm. I ran a loop around the beautiful Oconaluftee Islands Park and back to the casino. A nice little four-mile loop. I sprinted up the stairs back to my room. That got the burn going in the legs. The ketones seemed to be working and my head felt clear and focused after my run.

I was anxious to get back to the tables, but my afternoon was filled with conference calls. Finally, it was 5 p.m.

I was anxious to get back to the tables, but my afternoon was filled with conference calls. Finally, it was 5 p.m. and I quickly shut down my laptop and grabbed a snack of canned tuna and hot sauce (pro tip: rinse out the empty can so your hotel room doesn’t stink like fish!). After a couple minutes of meditation, I headed down the stairs to the poker room. There was no wait for the $1/2 tables so I was able to get a seat immediately.

The game was great. People were stacking off with top pair weak kicker like it was 2004 again. I seemed to be in the best seat again, as the only serious player was to my right. He was at my table the night before in the $2/5 game. He had on a Full Tilt baseball cap, sunglasses, headphones and a WSOP polo shirt affixed with various patches. Another low-limit reg with dreams of playing bigger.

He seemed to play fairly solid and I hadn’t really seen him get out of line until his ace-king got beat by ace-two on an {2-}{x-}{x-}{x-} board. Then the wheels came off and he went into full tilt himself. He started berating the other player in the pot for his “bad play” and I couldn’t help but put in a little needle.

I hate it when so-called “pros” decide to attack a fun player. I quietly asked him what he was complaining about; if what he was saying about the other player was true, isn’t that exactly the kind of opponent you want to be playing against? I don’t understand why you would attack weaker players if you consider yourself a serious player.

As Mike McD would say, “It’s just bad business.”

I don’t understand why you would attack weaker players if you consider yourself a serious player.

After losing that pot, he was short stacked and didn’t reload. A few shoves later, he was felted and left the table mumbling to himself. I was able to pull off one nice river bluff after getting down to about half my starting stack, but unfortunately, I never really got in a position to capitalize on all the money getting quickly accumulated in a few other player’s stacks from the other fun players.

An hour and a half into my session all the softest spots were broke and we were playing three-handed. I love short-handed play, but the other two players weren’t into it and the table broke. I flipped my lucky coin and it came up heads. That was the answer I needed on whether or not to play the nightly tournament. I went to the cage and cashed out. A small loss of $4. I registered for the tourney and went for a short walk out by the trout stream that runs through the middle of the casino property.

The tournament was about what you would expect for a low-limit, mid-week event. Several players, who would limp, call any bet regardless of size. Preflop raises in the 8-16x range. Standard. The buy-in is $40 for 2,000 in chips, but for a dealer add-on of $5 you get another 4,000 in chips for a 6,000 starting stack.

With blinds at $50/100, under the gun raised to $250 (he was a Negreanu fan), and the woman in the cutoff raised to $1,000 and the initial raiser called then checked the flop. She bet $400 with $200 left behind. He asked why she made it $1,000 preflop then $400 on the flop. She pointed out that she’s getting low on chips now and motioned to her stack in a matter-of-fact way. Duh.

After the blinds doubled for the first three levels, we were at level 4 when I picked up {a-Diamonds}{k-Diamonds} and raised from the cutoff. The big blind three-bet me and I four-bet, which put about half my stack in the middle. He had me covered and shoved all in. A fold would have left me with 12 big blinds and rapidly increasing blinds with an ante. It was time to race. I called and he flipped over two black nines. I didn’t improve and to the rail I went again. Back to the cash game grind.

I jumped into another $1/2 game and at least half the table was drinking. A couple of nice businessmen to my left who were up to play some mid-week golf and a few other semi-regulars. The seven seat was ordering double whiskeys every time the waitress came by and also had his own cup of an unknown beverage in front of him. A few rounds after I sit down, he was second to act after under the gun made it $12 to go.

He loudly proclaimed, “Raise!” and then tossed his cards into the muck. The dealer just swept his cards and looked to the next player for action. Two other players and myself point out that you can’t declare a raise and then not follow through. The dealer reluctantly explained this to the drunk player and told him he had to put $22 in the pot and he angrily flung his chips toward me and declared in a slur that he was going to kick my ass while pointing a wobbly finger in my direction.

He angrily flung his chips toward me and declared in a slur that he was going to kick my ass while pointing a wobbly finger in my direction.

“Floor!” I hollered out. As the floor person was walking over to the table, the two players to my right, who have more history with this player, quickly urged me to let it go. No sense tapping the glass. The floor man asked what the problem was and we told him that it was resolved and tried to laugh it off.

The drunk player then told me that he was going to raise every pot I was in after the floor walked away. I laughed and asked him if that is supposed to be scary. A few hands later, I picked up red fours in late position and he three-bet my $8 raise to $17 from the big blind. I called and the board came out all broadway cards. He fired $35 into the pot. I folded and he pointed a finger at me and said “Ooooooh” with an intoxicated grin.

A round later and I picked up black kings on the button. He had limped from early position and I raised it up to $16. I got a caller from between us and he made it $40. I flat on the button and the other player called between us. I had noticed that the villain loved playing any ace-rag and c-bet 100 percent of the time. As long as an ace didn’t come on the flop, I’d let him lead again and then get the stacks in (he also called just about any bet with his ace-high hands when raised on the flop).

The flop came down {q-}{7-}{4-} with two clubs. Sure enough he bet out $45 and I put my last $120 in the middle. The other player folded and he called, turning over {a-Clubs}{9-Clubs}. I had one blocker to his draw, but sure enough, a club on the turn and river sent him the $400+ pot. OK. My plan worked exactly as I wanted it to. I couldn’t let the result make my upset. I pulled out another $200 and reloaded.

A little while later, I squeezed a couple limpers from the button for $15 with {q-Clubs}{j-Clubs} and got one caller. A jack-high board with two spades gave me top pair and I continued on the flop and turn. The villain in this hand started with just over $100 in his stack and donk led the river when a red four hit the river. I was getting a little better than 2:1 on my money and made the call. {j-}. I topped off for anther $100.

A few rounds later and some bad run outs, and I topped off again for another $100. I was now in for $600. I looked down at {j-}{9-} suited and raised from the cutoff with my drunk friend limping from under the gun. Sure enough, he three-bet to $35 and I called. I had won a few pots and had about $250 in front of me. The flop came {j-}{10-}{x-} rainbow. He bet out $45 and I called, letting him drive the action with a wide range.

The turn was a {7-} and he bet out again for $60. I picked up the gutshot and called again, not wanting to stop him from continuing with what was most likely a bluff. The river was a wonderful {8-} giving me the one-card straight. He bet out $95, and after a little Hollywooding, I pushed the rest of my stack in the middle.

He looked disappointed and thought for a bit. I wanted a call and I hoped he at least had a pair. I tried a little Mike Caro theatrics and wagged my finger at him with my own, “Oooooh!” hoping to goad him into a call.

I tried a little Mike Caro theatrics and wagged my finger at him with my own, “Oooooh!” hoping to goad him into a call.

Unfortunately, he had air and ended up folding. I knew the rest of his stack was now certainly in play and now I was deep stacked as well. Perfect. I picked up a few more medium pots off him and now I was only stuck around $65 after being down about $500, but what I really wanted was the last $400 in front of him.

A new dealer came to the table, and, by this point, seat seven was so far gone that he was yelling “Wooooo!” like a drunkRick Flair every time he looked down and liked his cards, which was about 80 percent of the time. The dealer had to reach over and pull his small blind out of his stack because he could no longer wrap his mind around the concept of having to post.

When the cocktail waitress came around again, the dealer told her he was cut off and the fun was over. He stood up, grabbed handfuls of chips, stuffed them in his pocket and stumbled away from the table, leaving his coat behind even though half the table was yelling at him that he forgot it. Probably headed to the blackjack tables.

I took a break and shortly after I returned, another heavy drinker had sat down in the one seat. He was obviously an experienced player and the crown royal was giving him the push he needed to feel like he can just run over the table by raising almost every hand preflop. I looked down at red aces on the button and three-bet him on the button.

The big blind who had been fairly quiet so far decided to four-bet after a bit of contemplation and I just prayed the one seat would decide to come back over the top. He was stacking out chips and looked like he was about to try and isolate but eventually folded. I pushed back over the top and the big blind called for the rest of his stack.

A nice 200 big blind pot. He flips over {k-}{j-} off. The flop comes out {q-}{q-}{4-}. Perfect. I was in great shape. {9-} turn. {10-} river. Standard. He actually apologized and it sounded genuine. It was now 2:30 a.m. and I had to get up at 5:30 a.m. to drive back in the morning so I could start work by 9 a.m. The floor collected the last of everyone’s drinks and the table quickly got short handed as all the drinkers called it a night.

I knew I shouldn’t chase a loss but I hated leaving a loser. Reluctantly, I headed to the cage and cashed out. Down $230 on the session. I would not be sleeping as well tonight.

I knew I shouldn’t chase a loss but I hated leaving a loser.

Whether it’s the keto diet, the bulletproof coffee I had earlier, the frustrating session, or a combination of the three, I had trouble falling asleep. My alarm went off brutally a few hours later and I took a quick shower, packed up the room and headed back out on the road.

The clouds were back low and patches of fog softened the early morning sun as I headed back down the mountain. Three hours later, I was home and back online grinding the 9-to-5 again.

Lead image courtesy of Nicolas Toper/Flickr

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