It’s been a while since I had a chance to play poker in Atlantic City, but I went to the Taj Mahal today for the daily No-Limit Holdem tournament. Entry is $65. I’ve played this tournament a number of times and never finished in the money, but I keep trying. It’s fun, and I figure I have to get there eventually.
There were 64 players today, a small field (it’s often over 100), and I think I played my game well. I played my usual conservative style, won a few pots, survived one all-in, and knocked another player out. I made it to the last two tables (18 players), but with a dwindling chip stack, and quickly rising blinds and antes, I knew I needed a win to stay in. Sadly, I couldn’t get a playable hand at that point. I finally went all-in with a pair of threes and got beat, going out in 14th place. Not bad, but not in the money.
I had an hour left before I needed to head home, so I sat down at a no-limit cash game with $100 in chips (antes of $1-$2). Again I did okay, winning some pots, losing others. My stack went down to $50, then I went all-in with a pair of Tens and scared everyone else out, so that brought me back up to $100 for a while. Couldn’t get on the plus side, though.
Finally, with about 10 minutes left I was dealt pocket Aces, the best starting hand in the game. Now, some players hate the hand. It’s almost impossible to resist betting it big, and statistically it only wins 25% of the time, so everyone has stories of having pocket Aces “cracked.” I told a good one myself about a Taj tournament last year here.
Betting came around to me with several players calling the $2 ante. I bet $10. Five players called that, including the guy to my left. The dealer put out the three cards in the flop: Ten, King and Ace, two of them spades. I now had three Aces, a very good hand, but the board was still scary, as it could have given someone a straight or flush draw easily (and I had neither). No guts no glory, though. Everyone checked around to me and I bet $25. The guy to my left called, everyone else dropped out. The dealer put out the turn card, a queen of clubs. This was another scary card, as it fed the straight possibilities and added a second possible flush draw.
I had too much in the pot to quit now, though, so I bet another $25. My opponent called again. The dealer put down the river card, another King. I now I had a full house, Aces over Kings, which beat any flush or straight, so I felt I was in the clear. I bet another $25, and my opponent raised me enough to put me all in. I called.
He turned over a pair of Tens, showing a full house too, but was very disappointed to see my Aces, giving me the better full house and the win. Everyone at the table gave an astonished “OOOOH!” and I raked in a large pile of chips. Satisfaction! A few minutes later I left the table ahead $130, and ahead for the day about $60. Ah, if only they could all go that well…