First Day on the Job: An Interesting Hand

So yesterday, Monday September 12th, was my first day on my new job at Hollywood Park Casino. I haven’t left my old employer, Normandie Casino, but as the start of the year they announced they were cutting my pay. Then they cut my hours down to part time. Meanwhile, Hollywood Park starting hiring part time. So I pieced together to pay time positions to make one full time position. As it stands now, if all I do is break even at the game of poker, I’ll we working 46 hours for $1270 a week. Which, given the current economic situation, is really nice.

Now first days on the job are interesting, but I don’t know if it’s ever been quite like this. You see, casinos tend to be run pretty loosely, and that applies doubly so for how they treat house players. Most of time your “orientation” is nonexistent and you just start to pick up habits from other house players in a “monkey see, monkey do” fashion. And, of course, I’m coming from a different casino with different habits. At the Normandie it was appreciated if I helped out in running chips for players, because they ended up getting rid of their chip runners. Not that anyone asked me to, but often I was just sitting around anyway. Another related habit I picked up was “echoing” a call for player checks or food service so the designated people could more rapidly attend to the patrons.

So here I am, my first day on the job, carrying on my old habits. A player busts out, and I’m already calling for the chip runner. As I settle into a $3-5 No-Limit game,  I see one of the long time former hosts of Hollywood Park who has recently be made just another house player like me. You see, Hollywood Park used to have a group of three or four hosts on staff who were responsible for individual games. They would gather player information and call them up to get them to come in and play with them.  This particular guy used to be the host of the big NL game, and this was the first time I was really playing with him. I looked forward to playing some pots with him.

The first hand to come up was when I had pocket 8s in the cutoff. It was his big blind, so I brought it in for a $15 raise. He immediately raised it to $50. I reasoned that he figured me for a stealing hand much weaker than I possessed, so I called. The flop came 5 9 10, two tone (if I recall correctly) and he fires out another $50. I was expecting him to do this with his entire range, and I figure I’m ahead of all of his broadway hands, so I call again. The turn brings and Ace and he fires in $90. At this point, I don’t figure I’m ahead of much, so I laid it down.

I did file his aggression away for future hands. It seemed to me that he had inspired some other players in the hand to make squeezes from early position with what I term “elephant stomp” bets that were designed to end the action and take down the pot now, and they seemed to be a bit too large quite frankly. If it’s a limped pot, of all of $15, why make it $60? A smaller raise to $35 can get the job done for half the risk. I felt the table was making bet sizing errors I could exploit later.

Then this hand came up. I had about $250 in front of me when I got two red Kings in the cutoff. A player had straddled, everyone else had folded, and it was my rival’s big blind. I just limped along figuring that if squeezing action came later, that they might not give me credit for a high hand since I limped in from such later position. Much to my chagrin, the villain just completed the BB and the straddler checked his option. There was $30 in the pot, when the flop came Ad, Jd, 6h.

This was not a flop I was in love with as it had an Ace on it. They both checked and to me and I checked along expecting to bet the turn if they all checked again. The turn paired the board 6 with a 6 of clubs. The villain checked, the straddler lead out $20, which I called, when the villain (who had about $200 in front of him) raised to $80. The straddler folded, and left me with a tough decision to make.

Clearly the villain was an aggressive player when he decided to take charge of the hand, but the aggression in the hand seemed quite late indeed. I studied his beat sizing. Why raise $80 into a pot of $55? I called for time as I pondered the question. Clearly, to me, it seemed that this raise was designed to take down the pot immediately. I then asked myself with what kind of hand would he do that. It seemed to me that he had neither an Ace nor a 6, so I called the $80. The turn brought an offsuit queen and he showed all in for another $120 or so. I called and he showed me QJ for two pair, which meant my pocket Kings were good with the pair of 66s on the board.

A lot of people remarked their surprise at my holding as I was stacking the chips. I just smiled and went on about my business. The next day I was playing with him again and he mentioned that there was a particularly loose player in one of the games yesterday. I jokingly added, “Yea, and there was that calling station who called you down with damn near anything in that one hand.”

“Oh no,” he said. “I wasn’t upset with how you played that hand. I was upset by the result. I went home and analyzed that hand, and you just outplayed me.”

That was both good and bad to hear: good to to hear because it was a compliment; bad to hear because it implied he would be making adjustments to his play.

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