A scant week and a half after my brief but profitable shot at 100/200 PLO, I took another shot at a big game, 25/50 NL. Not quite as big, perhaps, but I managed to actually play for a few hours, in the meantime playing the biggest pot of my life.
My friend and I showed up at the Bellagio looking for some live poker action to break the monotony of online play. It was a slow night. The 10/20 had already broken (the first time I'd ever seen that happen) and the 5/10 was going on one table but was the only game that had a waiting list. There appeared to be seats at 15/30 and 30/60 limit, but...it's limit.
Well, our only other option was 25/50 NL. My friend was hesitant. I was a little worried, myself. Neither of us had played that high before.
"Look, I don't want to play crappy limit where I won't care but could still lose a lot and we can't get into the 5/10 game so I either want to take a shot at the 25/50 or just totally donk around at the 8/16," I told him.
"I'm not playing 8/16."
"Then 25/50 it is, c'mon."
We each bought in for $4k in a game where the typical stack was closer to $15k. We continued to show our noobness by each posting only one green chip to come in. "This is going to be fun," I remember thinking.
I didn't make much of a splash for the first couple rounds, until one particular hand. UTG limps. A bunch of other people limp. I check my BB with 5h3h. The flop comes 4c 6h 7h. SB checks. I check. BB leads for pot, about $300. Folds around to the SB who calls. I check-raise to $1000. UTG moves all-in. SB folds. Well, if he limped 74 UTG, more power to him...I call. He rolls over AhKh. I have visions of going home after only 20 minutes of playing. However, my hand holds up and I double up to about $8k.
Hmm...maybe I should go home anyways?
Hell no! I'm here to play. So feeling a bit more confident, I go through a few more rounds as my stack gets whittled down a bit with a couple check-folds on the flop in multi-way, raised pots. Then with $5650 in front of me and the table covering, I run into the biggest hand of my poker career so far.
A few limpers and a good player who's been playing it really loose and aggressive in position raises to $300. I'm in the SB and look down to see AsKs. I reraise to $900 fully expecting to take down the pot right there. But UTG calls, MP calls, and LP shakes his head and throws in his $600 call.
Flop ($3650): Ah 7s 4d. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough reads on the players to try to get tricky. The last thing I wanted was for it to check around and then be stuck OOP in a big pot with one pair on a potentially scary board. I had to bet. But how much? I wanted to bet close to pot, but I only had $4750 left. A pot-sized bet is already 3/4 of my stack. I could do a half-pot bet, but screw it! All-in! I open push.
At this point I figured my hand was face-up, and would only be called if one of my opponents hit their set. UTG immediately counted out $4750 and then started looking at the stacks of the two players to act behind him. Uh-oh. He thought a bit, what seemed to me to be him deciding whether to just call or raise. He must have 77 or 44, I thought. Ultimately, he decided to only call.
MP was next to act and immediately groaned (as I would find out, he was also quite a terrible player, or at least he played terribly that night). He took time to think for a bit. Given that my hand was essentially face up and UTG called I had to put him on quite a hand, too. Did he flop two pair? A7s or A4s? Does he have 44 and afraid enough of UTG's antics that he thinks his bottom set is no good? Finally he called, too, while LP turbo-mucked. The dealer raked it all into the pot. I started deciding whether after the hand I should donate my last few blue chips to the dealer or cash them out. Then I figure, well, one of them could have a straight draw and the other AJ or something...
Turn ($17,900): (Ah 7s 4d) Jc. I groaned a little more inside. But then something baffling happened. Check, check. Wha? Now I know one of them has 65. The dealer prepares to deal the river. No 8, no 3, no 8, no 3, no 8, no 3...
River ($17,900): (Ah 7s 4d Jc) 9d. Check, check. MP was already shaking his head.
Still expecting to lose I flipped my cards over, and kind of shrugged as if to say, "as advertised." MP mucked and later said he had 65. UTG, who I fully expected to roll over at least two pair or something, sat there and looked at the board, looked at me, looked back at the board, looked at his cards, looked out into space a bit, then back at the board and finally released his hand.
I didn't believe it until the dealer pulled his cards into muck and $17,900 was shipped my way, in multiple shoves. I started shaking. And smiling. And stacking and stacking.
I wish I could say I walked out of there $14k richer, but you win some and you lose some, and I was done with winning some for that day. I completely air-balled a few raised pots, made a terrible play when I paid off a super-tight guy's full house on the river when I had a flush. I flopped an OESD+FD against a guy's TPTK and we got it all in (I had him well covered) only to watch his hand hold up. My stack whittled, whittled, whittled down and finally around 8am I left, still up, but nowhere near as up as I had been.
As a coda, despite having to practically cajole my friend into playing, he went on to play in that game each of the next few days, doing very well, and then went on to LA where he sat at 50/100. I, meanwhile, have played one short session of live 10/20 since.