Slave to Rewards Programs

It had been a while since I had gone out to play live poker. For months I have been playing online and I even teased about streaming my play in some tweets. I still want to stream but now I am just not sure where I am going to find time to stream with all the things that I have going on. Up to now it had felt like playing live poker had taken a back seat. I had been focusing on my projects so much that going out to play poker was not a high priority. Yes, I still need to work on my bankroll but with my online play it didn’t feel like I was neglecting that. Eventually I became fed up with being home most of the time and I just needed to get out and do something. That something would be going to play live poker.

I ventured out to play some cards and pass the time. I had thought about going to other casinos to play but I needed to work on earning some points to maintain my rewards status. This narrowed my options down to the Horseshoe and Caesars Palace, the only two CET owned poker rooms left in Vegas. I am slowly starting to question if I will be playing enough hours to be able to achieve that status level. Its still early in the year and I could just be worried about nothing. The problem is I find games at other places to be much more profitable. Do I continue to be a slave to the rewards or go where I feel like I am making more money?  It isn’t like the games are tight and unplayable at the CET properties. The variance just feels like my luck has broken there. For now, I decided to be a slave to the reward program and went to Caesars Palace.

There was one memorable moment of the night. I had made a continuation bet on the flop, to which my opponent folded. The board was only nine high and I figured since he called my pre-flop three bet that he could float the flop. The guy next to him started to “coach” him and rattled off what my three-bet range must look like. If only he knew the types of cards I had been three-betting with. What made this memorable is the hand that I played against Mr. Table Coach. He four-bet me, making it a size that would have committed me. I had a pretty strong hand but it wasn’t a made hand and this was all pre-flop. The other thing I had to consider in this spot is, who makes these kinds of play when playing $1/$3? I do, but I am an exception, and it isn’t hard to spot the other players who can make similar plays. At worst I figured I was up against a made hand, why else would he make this big? The only players who do it this way want to make the rest of the game tree simple. They don’t want to have to think about what to do next. When the flop comes out you just look at the stack to pot ratio and see its less than one and go all-in. I could see my future if I called, I would have to spike an Ace and I wasn’t confident that he didn’t have pocket Aces even though I blocked that hand. I folded.

Mr. Table Coach’s jaw practically hit the rail. He was in shock that his play had not worked. He immediately admitted to having pocket Kings. In my mind I started to check off the list of things I had thought about. Made hand… check. He continued talking about the hand saying that he figured I would just jam if I had Ace-King. The thought had crossed my mind, but his play was way too obvious. What made my decision easier is it just didn’t make sense to get all my money in on a five-bet when I knew he already had a made hand. Villain targeting AK… check. What he didn’t realize was that I had been observing him. He barely played any hands. Most of the time he would bet big when he had a made hand and the rest of the time he played passively when he was still drawing. He liked to put pressure on his opponents by making them call big bets. Play patterns confirmed… check.

A few nights later I found myself wanting to venture out again. This time I decided to give the Horseshoe a try. When I arrived, there was no open seating in their $2/$3 game. I was amazed that they had so many $1/$3 games running and when I asked why, the person at the podium told me that people just like the lower buy in. This sort of confused me. Are these people not in Vegas to gamble? I guess people don’t care about gaming the system as much and just want to have fun. I took the available $1/$3 seat that they had and requested to keep my name on the $2/$3 list. I was still a slave to the reward program.

Eventually I did get my seat in the $2/$3 game. It didn’t feel much different than the $1/$3. The players were just as bad and had more money. The game began to change a little as some of the players called it a night and we got new players to sit with us. Over in seat seven there was a player who never raised preflop. He limped 100% of his range and called most of the time if it was raised. I adjusted my play to take this into account and make sure to proceed cautiously when he is involved. He could easily have a monster hand. Then there was seat six who seemed to have a broken fold button. He called a lot and then tried to make big bets to blow you off the hand. A few well-placed squeezes puts him in his place. He started avoiding me after he was forced to fix his fold button when I three-bet him. There wasn’t to much to worry about in the game as I figured out who the players were. A new player joined us. He is very chatty and sociable. He barely stays put long enough get settled in and yet he is playing every hand. He barely knows what is going on or at least it seems that way and he is putting money in the pot each time. I observe as he wins a couple of lucky run outs and quickly amasses a large sum of chips. This is where my payday for the night will come from.  

I wait patiently for my spot to present itself. I am dealt pocket kings. The action starts with a few limps from the players who have broken fold buttons and gets to our sociable friend who decides to raise it to $20. Good! Now I can three-bet and get more money in the pot with this hand. I raise it to $60, just enough so that I won’t be committed but if its raised again then it becomes obvious what will happen next. It folds back around to our sociable friend who decides to four-bet jam. Well, if he has pocket Aces that sucks but I doubt he has that hand. I snap call. He shows me one Ace. That doesn’t shock me as I sit there thinking, “No ace, no ace, no ace!”. As the dealer rolls the flop over, I can see an Ace in the window. Okay, I can still spike a King to make three of a kind. The dealer spreads the flop out and we see a seven and another Ace. The turn and river are no help.

I find myself questioning my motivations when I go play. I don’t really use the benefits of having a Diamond status all that much. Do I really need it? I find myself constantly saying it’s variance but is it really? Poker is supposed to be a game of skill but lets be realistic. There is some luck involved, the skill isn’t in making the hands. It’s in extracting value from your opponents and being able to read the situation. It should be easy to earn points! I guess I will continue to be a slave to the reward program until I see the light.

Bizzy’s 2023 Gains: -$1083.80

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *