The ship we were on had a single table for poker. They ran three SnGs for $100+$10 and had $1/$2 NL in the evenings. On the first night of the cruise Suited was sleepy by 10:30 and I headed down to the table to see what was shaking. When I got there, it was running six handed with no wait list. I plopped into the 7 seat and tried to buy in with $500 which would cover everone at the talbe. They limited me to $200 and there were two guys who looked to have about $400 in front of them. I posted on the cut-off and check-folded the first hand. On the second hand, a guy with two drinks in front of him raised to $10 and the whole table called in order except the grumpy old man, including me with 77. The flop came down A75r and I was very happy. The guy with the drinks tossed out $10 more carelessly and got called in one place and I elected to just smooth call and try to punish him on the turn. The turn was a Jack and he again tossed out $10 with one caller. I decided to see how confident they were and raised to $60. The original raised squinted at me in his best impression of the WPT and called. The guy in the muddle turbo-mucked. The river was another 5, giving me a nice boat. Drinking man checked and I shoved for my remaining $110 or so. He Hollywooded it for bit, finally declaring that “you must have the Ace” and mucked. I was pretty sure he had an Ace to call the turn, so I was a bit shocked. I won another pot or two without showing down and found myself at $500 within the hour. I was by far the most aggressive player at the table. They would usually have 4 or 5 way limped pots pre-flop, so I got to see a lot of flops with pretty marginal holdings. I found myself limping suited connectors UTG without fear. There were two nitty old men, one very solid player and eventually the rest of the table filled up with bad players. Some were foreign and seemed to have a dodgy grasp on anything strategic and some were just drunk and having fun. I tried to be entertaining and bantered a good deal with the drunkest guy (a Greek dude whose wife was dancing at the disco to celebrate her 30th birthday). I was pretty certain that I was hugely +EV at this table.
Eventually, I started to take some ugly beats. I got someone all-in with TT against my AA. Much like someone we know, that worked out badly for me when he spiked a Ten on the river to double through me. I also got another guy all-in when I had a set and he went runner-runner to complete a double gutshot. On another hand, I had QQ and made a big raise (they were calling up to $25 pre-flop!!). The flop came down Axx with two callers. I fired out another bet of $50 and was check-raised all-in for another $125 or so. I didn’t even much hesitate before mucking the Queens face up. After the table goaded him, he showed his A9 and I got acclaim, but no chips. I made one poor payoff with TT against QQ where we both had overpairs. I had to rebuy and was down $250 at my lowest point. As the table got short (eventually three handed), the best player at the table remained there and I had to get away from him a couple of times. The third player was a massive fish, so I stayed figuring to chop up the fish with the other player. Unfortunately, I got very little of the money. I was willing to play the fish heads-up, but he thought better of it. We bonded over some table games, so I had hopes to see his money over the next few days.
The following day, there was a $100+$10 at four in the afternoon. I was the second alternate and wound up with the last seat. The tourney paid $700 to the winner and $300 to second place. We started with $500 in chips with blinds at T$5/T$10. This was fine, but the blinds went up every ten minutes. It was clear that we were going to get into push/fold mode very early. I started in the CO and folded for the first level and most of the second with nothing but junk. Someone busted in the first orbit to top pair weak kicker. I don’t know what he had, but he played it like he had no idea how the game worked. The game had one of the old nits from the night before, the other good player and a bunch of new faces. Several of them seemed to have read a few books and were playing a bit tighter than the night before. I finally found AQs on the button with about T$450 left and the blinds at 10/20. The old nit two my left raised to 50 behind a grunch of limpers. I flat called, not wanting to get in too deep but hoping that I had the best hand. Twelve people called and we saw a ten high rainbow flop. It checked to the old guy who fired out 100 very quickly and looked fairly uncomfortable to me. I decided to just float with a plan to take it away on the turn if no one seemed too happy. I had just two backdoor draws and the overcards, but when everyone but me and the old man folded, I knew I was going to try to win the pot. The turn was a Jack, giving me a gutshot, but not helping the flush draw. The old guy did one of those very slow taps of the table, trying to look scary. I scooped up all my chips and dropped them to the felt, but a bit too slowly. The dealer called me on the string bet and made it just 100. I objected a bit, since that was what I seemed to be expected to do, although I didn’t really mind. Once I accepted the ruling from the dealer, the old guy couldn’t muck fast enough. This brought me to nearly T$1000. I started to catch a few cards and built up to T$1500 when I put a guy all-in with KK on a Queen high board. He had the flush draw and had to call, but didn’t catch on the river. I dropped down to T$900 when I turned the King-high flush and wound up doubling up the Ace-high flush. The structure wasn’t such that I could possibly have folded it, but he fooled me because I was certain he was chasing with the lone Ace. All of the sudden, the blinds were T$100/T$200 and my M was 3! We were about six handed at this time and a few guys were nursing very short stacks and clearly unaware of proper pushbot strategy. I started to push, winning the blinds on three consecutive hands and getting the SB to fold to my BB. They were grumbling about me, but not willing to risk their lives. This led to the pivotal hand of the game in my SB. All six players limped, I completed JTo and the BB shoved. It was like $400 more, but literally everyone at the table called (one guy was all-in for less). I figured I was getting 7:1 or so and couldn’t see how I could fold anything there. It was the biggest pot of the night by far. The flop was 8 high and checked around. The turn was a 9 giving me an oesd, but I saw no reason to bet on the come. With two players all-in, it checked around again. The river was a beautiful 7, completing the straight draw and giving me the nuts. I casually scooped up 500 chips and prayed for a call that didn’t come. I still busted the two all-ins and assumed a big chip lead with four players left, It was a little sad because the shortest stack celebrated when we rolled the cards because had a pair and couldn’t read my hand. I tried to seem upset for him. At this point, there were a number of observers and it was the kind of all-in donkey poker that they love on TV. No one wanted to tangle with me now, so I bullied until a guy got fed up and called me with A6. Unfortunately for him I had A8 and it held up. The bubble was only about two hands because the blinds were now $200/$400 and the other two guys had less than $1000 left. The bigger of the two stacks called me for a coin flip, but my 88 held up and busted him. I had about T$9300 to T$700 when we started heads-up and refused an offer to chop. I’m pretty sure he was joking. He pushed blind in his BB and tabled his hand before I acted. He had 73o. I peeked at 22, so “called” his out of turn bet. He rivered his 7 and doubled to $1400. He folded two hands (???) and fell back to 800. He pushed again with K7 and couldn’t catch up to AT, I collected $700 for a nice $600 profit. I decided I would play another one next time they came around.
The second tourney was less exciting. I managed to make a blind steal or two and kept my stack at 500 chips the entire time. Unfortunately, the blinds continued to climb precipitously. We played exactly six hands at 25/50 and then at 50/100 my M was about 3 again. I pushed A9s and the resident big stack/calling station (he doubled by calling a push from a set and going runner-runner flush) called me with QJ. The flop was AKT and I didn’t catch up with the last two cards. Good game, nice to play with you, see you later. They wouldn’t let me sign up for the third tourney, so Suited played that one and busted in the same fashion. She got the money in good in pushbot time, but couldn’t hold off the other player.
The cash games were ridiculously juicy and I’m very disappointed that I only ended up $400 on the trip. The problem with calling stations is that you have to catch some hands to punish them and I just couldn’t do it as often as I would have liked. I would make a nice profit playing these games every day, that much is certain to me. I got my money in good like 80% of the time, but couldn’t hold off the suckouts. It also hurt me a bit that I won the first tourney and knew the rules, because people started telling new players that I was “a pro” and I didn’t always adjust to the new table image that created for me.
The play was consistently horrific, even by $1/$2 NL standards. I saw one guy drop 8 buy-ins in the span of about 2 hours. Unfortunately, the rake was also horrific, with a 10% rake up to $15! This led to any number of rough outcomes. I saw one hand where someone raised pre-flop and called a shove for $100 from the Button. There was $203 in the pot with the blinds. This led to a full rake of $15, so the effective pot was $188. They both held KK and wound up losing $6 each on the hand. A little bit funny, a little bit sad. The dealers were mostly terrible — they only knew a few rules (interestingly, one of them was the string bet and they enforced that with a passion). They were very confused about all-ins and legal re-raise sizes. They tried to give one guy two green chips when we raced off the $5 chips. They frequently misread the board and tried to push the pot to the wrong people. Eventually, they wound up asking me what they were supposed to do as often as not. In one hand, a drunk fish in the ten seat called a $40 bet on the flop when I had a set, but failed to protect his cards. The dealer mucked them by mistake and he went ape. He loudly declared what his two cards were and wanted them restored to him so he could play out the hand. I was happy with that solution, since he was drawing nearly dead and I had been waiting to catch good against him for a long time that night. Unfortunately, the floor not only didn’t give him his cards back, his solution was to pull the $50 he had invested in the pot thus far and return it to him. I was pretty unhappy with that solution, but decided to just let it go in the interest of harmony. It really sucked, because he would have went runner-runner two pair and I would probably have stacked him instead of just collecting a little bit from the nit.