Category Archives: Poker



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…

Bad Beat Story

Every poker player has them. This one is classic.

I went to the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City this morning to play the daily $50 no-limit holdem tournament. The entry fee is actually $65, with $50 going to the prize pool, $15 to the casino, the usual deal. Played for about the first hour getting almost no playable hands. I played conservatively, as is my usual early tournament style. Lost some small pots. Finally, I was on the button with a Jack-Queen and called. Several other players also called. The flop was three low cards. Everyone checked around. The turn was another card I didn’t need. Everyone checked again. I bet about three times the big blind, and won the pot on a bluff. I showed it, too, hoping to get players thinking I’m willing to bet with nothing (which I almost never do).

A few hands later, I’m the big blind, so already in the hand, and I finally get cards, a pair of Aces. Again several people bet the minimum, $200 at that point. When it’s my turn, I bet $3000. So, now they’re wondering if I’m bluffing again. Everyone folds around to the guy two to my right, who reraises all-in. The guy next to me is tempted to call, but eventually folds. I do call, putting ME all-in. The other player turns up a pair of Eights, and I show my Aces. So far, so good, I’m well ahead.

The flop is Ace-Three-Four. I now have a set of Aces, and am dominating the hand. Eights guy looks very sad, but…the turn card is another Eight. He perks up. It’s now three Aces against three Eights, so I’m still well ahead. But there is one card that can beat me, and on the river it comes up: the last Eight in the deck. I’m out, beaten by four Eights.

When you’re overcome by such astronomical odds as that, all you can do is tip your hat to the gods of luck and chance, and move on. I got my chips in with the best hand, and that’s the best you can hope for. And try again another time.

A Set of Jacks

That’s three of ’em, and was the best hand I had today at The Borgata, where I went to play no limit Texas Hold-em poker for a little over two hours. Won a nice pot with them, the only big one, and two smaller pots, but the rest of the time I wasn’t geting cards worth playing, or when I did I got no help on the flop and dropped out. As is usually the case, there was one guy who kept getting good cards, hitting big hands, and winning pots. I can’t complain, though, I was that guy a month ago when I was there on July 3rd. Came home down $50, not a bad loss. And there’s always next time.

TV Poker

New broadcast episodes of the World Series of Poker begin this week on ESPN and ESPN2. They’re trying something new this year. For the Main Event, the tournament that decides this year’s top winner, they’ve played the tournament up to the final table, but that last part of the game will be broadcast live in November, no doubt for a hoped ratings boost. I feel sorry for the players, but it will make it more fun to watch. Meanwhile, every week between now and then I can enjoy an hour or two of broadcasts, beginning with satellite tournaments from all over the place, and then finally moving to the many tournaments played in Las Vegas at the main venue, and culminating in the Main Event, which last year they got 12 hours of broadcast time out of, I think. If you’re not into poker, give a look once and see what you think. I enjoy watching the broadcasts almost as much as I enjoy playing myself. If you are a poker fan, you probably already know these are the best games on TV.

1-2 No Limit at The Borgata

The Borgata

I will get back to comic book topics on this blog soon, I promise. Today’s post is about poker, though. Ellen attended a Mary Kay conference at the Atlantic City Convention Center today, and asked me to drop her off there and pick her up when it was over, as we did last year. I was happy to do that, as it gave me a good excuse to play some poker.

Since my win in a small tournament at The Borgata in December (check earlier posts in the Poker category for the story), I’ve been in three small tournaments and didn’t get close to the money, but today I planned on playing in cash games instead. That way I could leave any time Ellen was ready to go home. I decided to play at The Borgata, and after dropping Ellen off, got there and seated at a 1-2 No Limit game around 9 AM. The game is Texas Hold-em, the blinds or forced bets are $1 and $2, traveling around the table in progression, and you can bet any amount, that’s the no-limit part.

Sometimes you just get a feeling right away of how things will go, and this morning it was like that. I had just sat down, was still putting my 100 white $1 chips in front of me, and picked up my first hand. I was already in for $2. My two hole cards were Queen-Nine. Not a great hand, but a little better than average. Several guys called but there were no raises, so the flop (three communal cards) came up: Queen-Nine-Three. I now had top two pair, a pretty good hand. Someone to my right bet $10, and I called along with a few others. The turn card (a fourth communal card) came up Seven. Everyone checked to the first better, who now put in $30. I put him on a high pair, probably Aces. If he had two Queens in his hand, I was beat, but otherwise I probably still had the best hand with two pair. I called, everyone else went out. The last communal card came up another Queen. I now had a full house, Queens over Nines, a terrific hand. There were no flush or straight possibilities on the board. I checked. The better put in $60, which was exactly what I had left in front of me. Feigning great worry, I reluctantly called him all in. He turned over his pair of aces, and was greatly annoyed when I showed my full house. I doubled my money on the first hand I played.

The morning went on like that. One of those rare times when you’re in a groove, and the cards just keep coming up right. By noon I left the game with $525. When you buy chips they give them to you in a plastic rack that holds 500 chips. It was oddly satisfying to refill my rack with 500 red $5 chips where I had begun with all white $1 ones.

I had some lunch in the cafeteria downstairs, and called Ellen to see how things were going, but she didn’t answer, so after walking around the casino a little I decided I’d play again, starting once more with $100, and would spend not a dollar more. The afternoon session, same game, different table, went more like a typical session for me. My stack went up and down, but I never got ahead. The cards weren’t coming my way this time. At one point I was all in with about $40 left, and I won that hand, but most of the time I was just throwing in cards I didn’t think worth playing. After about 3 hours of that I was down to $27, and I knew Ellen would be calling soon, so I went all in with a pair of Sevens, and got beat by a pair of Nines.

Still finished the day ahead $325, though, which is perfectly fine. My back and butt are sore, but I don’t care, it was fun. It’s always fun, but moreso when you come out a winner.