Poker at the Borgata

Borgata Hotel

If you’re not interested in poker, you might want to skip this entry.

I finally got to play poker at the Borgata casino-hotel in Atlantic City today. I tried to last month, but the day I drove there they had a major fire in a new addition they’re building, and the casino was unreachable.

Today I arrived without incident. The Borgata is in the Marina district, some distance from the boardwalk area where most of the casinos are, but it’s an easy drive, and there’s plenty of parking. Inside, the casino was very attractive. It’s the newest one in AC, and I’d never been inside. I found the Poker room easily, and that was also attractive, much newer and nicer than the one at the Taj Mahal where I usually play.

I had planned to play in a $60 Texas Hold-’em tournament they usually have on Sunday, but that one was cancelled this week to make room for a $5000 one. Needless to say I didn’t enter that tournament. But since I was there I decided to play some cash games. I’ve had no luck at poker this year, but I felt that had to change SOME time, and why not today?

I joined a table playing $3-$6 limit hold-’em with my usual $100 stake. I tried to play conservatively, but got into a few hands and lost them all, and after 45 minutes I was down to about $20. It looked like my poker day would be a short one. Then I drew a pair of pocket aces and won a nice pot with them. Next hand I did it again! Things were definitely turning around. A few hands later I was in the big blind with 2-7 off suit, the worst possible hand in hold-’em. But everyone just called, so I had a free look at the flop, which had a seven in it. I stayed in, and the turn was a 2, so I now had two pair. Betting continued, and I won that pot, to the confoundment of the guy with a pair of kings.

By noon, after an hour and a half, I was ahead by $20, and decided to break for lunch. I must say the food court at the Borgata is way better than the lunchroom at the Taj. I was actually able to get a healthy salad.

After lunch I debated heading for home at least a little bit ahead, but couldn’t resist trying another game, so I sat down at a $1-$2 NO LIMIT hold-’em table with my $100 stake. After a few hands I determined that several players to the right of me were playing very tight (conservatively), while two players to my left were playing loosely (aggressively), so my strategy was to also play tight, but raise before the flop about once a round, then fold when I was reraised by the aggressive players. This happened twice. With that pattern set, I waited for a very good hand and just limped in at the $2 minimum with A-K of hearts. Sure enough, one of the aggressive players raised me. I called. The flop gave me a pair of aces. I checked. He raised larger, $20. I looked worried, but called. The same thing happened on the turn. He was getting suspicious now, and I pegged him as having a pair of queens, the other face card on the board, or also a pair of aces like me. On the river he checked, and I raised HIM $20. He reluctantly called, and I won a nice pot with my pair of aces, king kicker (he had A-8).

Things were looking up, I was ahead a hundred dollars now. I continued my strategy, a few players came and went, but the pattern of aggressive to my left, conservative to my right continued. I won a few medium pots and split one, getting me up to about $270 (my original $100 and $170 profit), and I was feeling pretty happy. Then came the big hand.

There’s always a big hand somewhere in a no limit game, though sometimes you don’t recognize it until later. There was no mistaking this one. My hole cards were A-Q of clubs. I limped in. Aggressive guy to my left bet $25. I and two others called. The flop was K-8 clubs, and another low card, not clubs. I now had a great flush draw, but still no real hand. I checked, Aggressive Guy (hereafter AG) bet $50. I knew he had at least a pair of kings. The other two jumped out, and it was just him and me. I thought it was worth chasing the flush draw, as I was still well ahead. I called. The turn was another low card, not a club. I checked. AG bet $50 again.

Now I was getting in really deep, and still didn’t have a hand. Any club would help me, so I had about a 25% chance of making the flush. Reluctantly, I called, now into the pot for $125. The river was a low club. I made the nut flush, the best possible hand! Trying not to show any emotion, I waited a bit, as if considering, then moved all in with my remaining money, $137. AG called, and turned over a pair of kings, giving him three, a set. I turned over the nut flush and took the pot. Success!

I was now up $550. I waited a few more hands until the next dealer change, not playing any, and stepped away with my winnings. It was time to go home anyway, and I was certainly happy with what I had, it’s the most I’ve ever won in a single day, and I think puts me slightly ahead for the year, after losing all through the rest of it.

I know luck has a lot to do with it, but it sure feels good to win once in a while.

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